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All the World’s Our Playground The Next Adventure!

We have had excellent feedback from both staff and parents in schools participating in Plays in the Playground, and have been hugely impressed by the quality of all the performances which we have attended.  Wells Festival of Literature has been delighted that the funds contributed by them to the series of events you arranged have been so creatively and efficiently used.  It is particularly exciting that some of the performances have had active participation from parents of pupils. The project appears to have been an enormous success and it’s excellent news that you are aiming to expand” 
Wells Festival of Literature, Funder

We are busy developing plans for the next exciting phase to Plays in the Playground: All the World’s Our Playground.

This project will bring together six Shepton Mallet primary schools bringing high-quality theatre into playgrounds, public spaces and schools.  Reaching 900 students, 2000 family members and over 1500 Shepton Mallet residents at public events.

We will be bringing some of the South Wests most exciting and innovative theatre companies for young people to Shepton Mallet and the project will culminate in a magical performance at St Paul’s Junior School site in March 2020.

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Partner Schools in the Project are:

Bowlish Infant School (Lead School)
Shepton Mallet Infant School
St Paul’s CofE (VE) Junior School
Croscombe School
Stoke St Michael’s
St Aldhelm’s School

All the World’s Our Playground will work in four key phases:

Phase 1: Plays in the Playground

High calibre performances in playgrounds and schools
Deepening relationship with companies and expanding range
900 students, 2000 family members access performances

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Phase 2: Plays in the Town

Bringing amazing theatre to town centre venues and spaces in Shepton Mallet including summer performances in Collett Park supported by Shepton Mallet Town Council
Building networks in schools through a youth programming board

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Phase 3: Plays in our Imagination

Young people programming work and understanding the creative process
Shadow puppetry performances in schools and town centre
Teacher CPD visit to Bristol Puppetry Festival
Author visiting schools to open up creative process of creating a story arc funded by Literature Works
Developing student storyline for March 2020 production

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Phase 4: All the World’s Our Playground

Creative performing arts and shadow puppetry workshops for students and community
The project will culminate in an immersive festival at St Paul’s school site featuring all 6 schools with a range of shadow puppetry, creative performances and displays in windows – the show will be a promenade event with the storyline created by schools.
This will be complemented by a selection of high calibre professional theatre showcased at the school and in the town centre – the youth panel will select and commission these companies.

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The performance / Celebration Event

This will be devised and created by students in Shepton with support from theatre professionals. This will take the form of a promenade performance with different sections around the site to explore – some led by students, some by professional companies, some installation – through drama, dance, song and visual arts. Windows will be decorated with shadow puppets created by the students and lit up.

As part of developing the performance students will be asked about

  • Their attitudes to Shepton Mallet
  • What makes them proud of Shepton Mallet
  • What / who they love in Shepton Mallet
  • What they would change
  • If they could go anywhere where would they go – another county / another world / another time

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The Story Concept

The performance itself will tell the story of a young girl from Shepton Mallet who wants to travel and experience the world.

She follows the light out of Shepton into the world (all the children’s magic spaces). But when she gets there she realises something is lacking. Returns home to find what she needed was here all along with a shadow puppet tour around Shepton (exploring buildings, history, social history, people etc)

The story and worlds it uncovers will be the students’ creations. They will also share the things that are special to them about the town and in the process will share some of Shepton Mallet’s history.

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We are currently fundraising for All the World’s Our Playground which we hope will commence in March 2019.

We are very grateful to Shepton Mallet Town Council, Literature Works and Wells Literature Festival for their support of our work and financial commitment. We have a bid to the Arts Council pending and we are very interested in working with local sponsors and artists to support this programme.

 

 

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Ingo’s War leaves students spellbound

Having taken the 2017 Edinburgh Fringe by storm with their magnificent blend of physical theatre, puppetry and storytelling Ditto Theatre came to visit us in Shepton to share their visceral blend of theatre-making.

Ingo’s War tells the story of World War II through the eyes of a small dog, Ingo. Having met the lovable Ingo out in the playground students were eager to pet him and follow his tale – and it didn’t disappoint.

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With magical storytelling, clever use of simple and spellbinding puppetry Ditto gave students a clever, heartwarming, thought-provoking and perfectly pitched introduction to the devastating impact of war but also to the everyday heroism of friends – both human and canine!

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Year 2 students were then treated to a workshop with Ditto where they used everyday objects to explore their movement, sound, texture and how they could become animals as well as looking at physical gesture.

 

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Space Station Shepton Mallet

We were totally honoured, bowled over and enthralled to welcome Bristol’s very magnificent Wardrobe Ensemble with their production of The Star Seekers to Shepton Mallet! We caught them just before they jetted off the The National Theatre in London no less!

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Having toured theatres in the know up and down the country they set voyage for space station Shepton Mallet to find some intergalactic adventurers to help solve their planetary challenges.

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Their charismatic blend of audience inspired musical creations, comedy and imagination kept audiences young and old inspired in a show for Shepton Mallet Infant school students and an after school show for parents and families.

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T-Rex and the Christmassy Christmasness

Two surprise visitors invaded Playgrounds in Shepton Mallet today – a T Rex was spotted at Bowlish Infant School attempting too poach book bags and key fobs and a rather enthusiastic dog was seem hot footing around Shepton Mallet Infant School Playgrounds.

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After these surprise escapades students were treated to the quite possibly the most Christmassy Christmas show of all… The Christmassy Show of Christmassy Chirstmassness!

Staged by Craig from the magnificent Cornwall-based Squashbox Theatre Company the Christmassy Christmas show brought a riot of colour and laughter to schools as students hunted for the Brussel sprouts and discovered the real meaning of Christmas magic.

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Higher Beings come to Town!

A cold November morning didn’t stop the amazing Higher Beings stilt walking their way into Shepton Mallet. Children were enthralled at the amazing stilt walkers who paraded through playgrounds at Bowlish Infant School, Shepton Mallet Infants and St Paul’s Junior School before and after school.

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Parents and students were treated to a pre and post school circus show at both the infant schools featuring puy demonstrations, intergalactic stilt walkers, juggling and plate spinning.

Students at Bowlish Infant School had the opportunity to each create their very own space picture in the space spinner and students at Shetpon Mallet Infants had the opportunity to try their hand at a range of circus skills!

St Paul’s students had their very own lunchtime circus show out on the playing field before the finale performance at Shepton Mallet Infant school.

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Giant Jam Sandwiches and Solar Sensations: Bringing some Edinburgh Magic back to Shepton Mallet

This summer we were lucky enough to go up to Edinburgh and scope out some of the most exciting and brilliant kids-theatre around. If you haven’t been to the Fringe before it’s super child-friendly (apart from the long journey!) and the city is teeming with some of the world’s most inventive theatre – both street acts and performances. Here were our top four Children’s shows (in no particular order!)

  1. Our youngest’s favourite: The Giant Jam Sandwich

A rip-roaring musical theatre show by New Perspectives Theatre packed full with brilliant songs, superb acting, an explosive set and high octane interactive fun. Like jam this was super sweet, highly addictive with songs that stick to you for weeks: we loved it!

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  1. Polar Bears Go Up

Totally charming non-verbal show about two cohabiting polar bears searching for their lost balloon. So inventive, incredibly expressive, charming and funny performances: a touch of Morecombe and Wise, a drop of Pingu and a massive dose of invention and magic.

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  1. A Heart at Sea

The word mesmerising was made for shows like this. Wonderful music (the CD has been on a loop in our car) totally spellbinding set and puppetry, and a duo of performers absolutely in sync. This magical story of a father and whale who have both lost their off-spring is sure to captivate audiences young and old.

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  1. The Star Seekers

The company that absolutely blew us away at the fringe was The Wardrobe Ensemble. As well as their hit show for adults (currently on tour Education, Education, Education – see it if you can!) We also saw The Star Seekers, a completely interactive intergalactic adventure. Absolutely the funniest thing we saw on the fringe and a brilliant opportunity to learn about all things planetary.

And we are hoping… that the very wonderful Wardrobe Ensemble from neighbouring Bristol may rocket themselves down to join us for Plays in the Playground this autumn…watch this space!

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A Mysterious Rustle

On Monday 17th July PaddleBoat returned with their incredible new production Rustle. St Paul’s Junior School in Shepton Mallet was very honoured to host the national premiere of this new show. As well as an in-school production for St Paul’s, there was also be an after-school sharing for students and parents from both Infant schools.

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The sun shone, the campsite was lit, they brought with them a truly magnificent set – and we were off. Into the forest. Audiences marvelled at the inventive set and storytelling style, brilliant music and audience participation to build campfires. Adults, students, toddlers alike got into the camp fire spirit… but what was that mysterious Rustle?

As an intimate piece of theatre normally catering for audiences of 100 PaddleBoat very kindly adapted to welcome an audience of over 300 for the first show. Performed in the round, PaddleBoat offered an exceptionally fun and inventive piece of theatre that felt like the perfect end to term.

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We’ve been so grateful for the huge amount of support and commitment from all the companies we’ve worked with this term – going above and beyond to make this a truly memorable experience for schools, students and staff.

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We are very grateful to Shepton Mallet Town Council who we have just heard have generously offered to support the project in addition to funding already given by Royal Theatre Bath Creative Fund and Wells Festival of Literature. This additional funding will mean we can bring further Plays in the Playground into Shepton Schools. We’ve had such positive feedback online, from parents, staff and funders that it’s fantastic that we can continue the project into the next term – so a very big thank you to all our funders for making it possible.

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It’s been a real privilege to work with such cutting edge, experienced companies. We look forward to more fun next term!

Ooooh Arrrgh… Hammerpuzzle have landed

This week was all about Pirates. Captain Jack from Hammerpuzzle Theatre Company, an associate company of The Egg theatre in Bath, landed in town on the 12th July looking to recruit more shipmates for his crew. He tried his luck with Shepton Infants parents as students as they arrived at school before scouring the classrooms for treasure. He seemed impressed with the way some the teachers ran their ships.

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He sailed off for other shores and students settled down for morning assembly. But… what was that noise in the PE cupboard? Captain Jack burst out and led a full-on pirate training boot camp for students and staff alike. He tested pirate knowledge, taught some sea-shanties and told us some tall tales about life on the seven seas.

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He also visited Bowlish Infant School and St Paul’s Junior – where he also invited students to draw his portrait in a mass portraiture session for students. Happy with his new Shepton Shipmates he returned to his ship before dark!Shipmates he returned to his ship before dark!

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According to Arthur

A rather shy elderly gentleman waited nervously in the playground this week. Too scared to speak and rather lonely Arthur was worried he might not feel at home in Shepton playgrounds. It wasn’t long though before students at Bowlish Infants and Shepton Mallet Infants had him running races, climbing on the play equipment and chasing after students.

PaddleBoat Theatre brought beautiful interactive storytelling into schools with their magical production According to Arthur. Students were totally mesmerised as Arthur sent balloons around the world, and described his former travels and adventures. Shared through PaddleBoat’s wonderful visual, playful, interactive style students were gripped as Arthur’s life unravelled and gradually shrank to fit the walls of his tiny flat. And they were overjoyed as Arthur re-found his confidence, shouting out “You can do it Arthur”, “There’s nothing to be scared of.”

Described by one member of staff as the best performance they have ever had in school PaddleBoat then went on to lead a wonderful storytelling and devising workshop with Year 2 students who created their own cities using their movements and storytelling and they even led a brilliant CPD session for staff to share some of their tips, tricks and ideas!

We are very excited that PaddleBoat will return later this term with their incredible new production Rustle. The company will tour a host of theatres across the South West this summer but St Paul’s Junior School in Shepton Mallet is very honoured to host the premiere performance of this brand-new piece of outside theatre. As well as an in-school production for St Paul’s, there will also be an after-school sharing for students and parents from both Infant schools.

Packed with outdoor adventure, campfire songs, puppets, and sleeping bags that turn into monsters – PaddleBoat will be sure to both fright and excite as families join them to set-up camp in the forest in this family friendly show.

All aboard as Squashbox Theatre Come to town!

The very marvellous Craig from Squashbox Theatre Company kicked off Plays in the Playground in true style with his very brilliant Sea Show.

Armed with Sammy the Sea Squirt, a beautiful mermaid, a naughty seagull and not to forget Brian the Pig, Squashbox Theatre had all the children gripped with their unique blend of pitch-perfect comedy, beautiful music and storytelling, and a host of interactive silliness. The children learnt about keeping safe in the sea, not leaving litter and how to spray your teachers with a Sea Squirt!

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As well as performing the show twice at Shepton Mallet Infants School and St Paul’s CEVE Junior School Squashbox Theatre also hosted some brilliant playground interaction with Brian the fruit-friendly pig… Just don’t shout bananas!

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After a hesitant start Brian soon commandeered the playground – followed by a trail of children, adults, toddlers and teachers!