Thanks to the grant from Awards for All we were able to provide a series of interactive shadow theatre workshops at venues across Leeds in 2011.
Workshops gave the participants the chance to experience a high-quality piece of visual storytelling, to explore the story through drama and movement and retell it in their own words with their parents and carers. In addition, the workshops provided an opportunity to explore and play with shadows and light. Children and carers worked creatively using torches, OHPs and a range of different materials. They succeeded in making pictures, images and simple stories both together and independently. The children were proud of the work they made and wanted to share their discoveries with each other, with their family members and with the workshop leaders.
Feedback from the adults involved – both parents and staff at the venues we worked with – all said that they had gained new skills from being involved. Parents were keen to continue exploring shadows with their children at home and staff-members felt inspired by the work and planned to use the techniques they had seen in their own practice.
Feedback on workshops
Below are some responses from staff at three of the venues we visited.
“We all really enjoyed the workshop and the children were still buzzing from it at the end of the week. We put out resources for them to carry on making puppets and we have hung a hula hoop from the ceiling with white paper covering it – the children have been using torches and continued to make up their fabulous stories. I learnt lots of things from the workshop also. It was just a really lovely day with lots of children really engaged in the activities you set up.” Reception Teacher, Little London Primary School.
“I really enjoyed the opportunity to step back and experience the activity from the child’s perspective, and see what they were able to get out of it.” Foundation Teacher, Holy Rosary Primary School
“It was an amazing learning opportunity for me and supported my studies.” Trainee nursery nurse, Chapeltown Children’s Centre
Some responses from parents and carers who attended the workshops with their children:
“Normally my son is always shy but today he was very confident. He told jokes because he wanted to join in.”
“Storytelling is a good way to entertain the kids with props and puppets … I’ve got loads of ideas on what I could do at home with him.”
“Brilliant interactive sessions. Lovely to see all the children having so much fun and hearing the laughter … children got a chance to bring their potential and talent out. Thank you!”
Some responses from 3 year-olds, at Chapeltown Childrens’ Centre, who attended our activity day at Inkwell.
“I loved playing with the lights and saw lots and lots of animals.”
“I made a puppet and saw shadows everywhere!”
Feedback on Training
We were also able to train a small team of volunteers to help us deliver the workshops, all of whom felt the experience was valuable and that they had learnt new skills which they could use in other contexts.
We worked with four volunteers in all – Pippa Julings, Carly Elliott, Pippa Spowage and Kathryn Connell. Pippa Julings is a trained art therapist, who was interested in learning more about shadows and thought it likely she would use the techniques we worked with in her own practice. Carly is a housing support worker who works regularly with children and young people and was keen to find ways of working more creatively. Pippa Spowage is a trained lawyer, who was looking to retrain and work in the arts and Kathryn Connell is a classroom assistant and working mother who felt that the training would help her to be more creative in both of those roles.
“I thoroughly enjoyed the training day. It was wonderful to have the space to express ourselves through story telling and den making. It enabled me to support the children we worked with in exploring their ideas and imaginations.” Carly Elliott