25 years of delivering workshops into schools

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Theatre Workshop are celebrating 25 years of delivering workshops into schools. We talk to Yvonne about their journey and the changes that have happened along the way, as well as their plans for the next 25 years.

Hi Yvonne, 25 years of delivering workshops into schools is a massive achievement can you tell us a little bit about how you started Theatre Workshops and what inspired you to work with students and teach them through workshops?

"After leaving the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama one of my first jobs was working at Wigan Pier. The Theatre company there would perform with the audience, in this case about Victorian life, discussing Pit brow lasses and working life and conditions down the mine. It was great fun. One of the directors there wanted to take the work around and into schools to show them what life would have been like 100 years ago in their area.

It became apparent that schools really enjoyed and appreciated what we were doing and when the opportunity came along a few years later to start our own company, this seemed a great way to fulfil a need and inspire an interest in history at the same time. With the help of the Princes Trust and lottery funding we founded the theatre company in 1993.

historical theatre

As time has changed and the learning journey has changed how have you refocused the way you deliver your workshops?

"Over the years we have adapted our workshops to fit in with the National Curriculum, and when history was deemed to be less relevant to schools we created a new company to write and perform plays for school audiences. This company is called Arty-Fact theatre Company.

Drama can help with so many aspects of developing a student’s wellbeing and also their confidence, what evidence have you seen of this from the workshops you deliver to schools?

"Theatre Workshop has been fortunate enough to be asked to return to many of the schools over the years, and we hear first hand about the impact our work has had on the students, in terms of growing confidence, better exam results. And in one case in particular a boy that had previously refused to speak at school, began to voice what he had seen and done during the Egyptian workshop.

Have the topics that you cover changed much, what would you say is your favourite workshop you deliver and why?

"We added The Super Stone Age Workshop about 3 years ago and have changed some of the content on our other History Workshops to stay in line with the curriculum. My personal favourite is the Very Elegant Victorian Workshop, which is great fun and packed full of information. Brian, who is the writer in residence has just shouted out to me that he still really enjoys “The Amazing Greek” Workshop for the myths and legends that it contains.

Is it just historical topics that you cover as a company?

"It is mainly history, but Theatre Workshop also offers Shakespeare Workshops for Ks2, Ks3 & Ks4. The most popular being “All Hail Macbeth”.

Workshops are a great way to introduce a topic to students, how soon into learning a new topic do you recommend before bringing in a workshop provider?

"It really depends on the school’s preference and how they like to develop the learning process. Some use them as a WOW! Factor to start the subject and fill the students with enthusiasm. Others, as a reward for hard work during the term.

How much preparation does a teacher need to do before bringing in a workshop provider to the school?

"We forward a teacher’s pack for the school, which covers the whole topic and gives them extra ideas on things to make and do. These packs are also published on TES website.

For teachers unsure about booking a workshop for their school what advice would you give them when they are thinking about booking one?

"It is difficult to get the right kind of workshop, to fit in with your school timetable. Best advice is to try and get references from local schools. Look on our website, or simply give us a call and we will tell them exactly what is going to happen during each session.

What are you most looking forward to over the next few years at Theatre Workshops?

"Looking forward, we are very excited that we will be offering an Emotional Wellbeing Workshop with our anti-bullying play “Best Friends Forever” which will be touring from this September.

If you are interested in hearing a bit more about how Theatre Workshops can help you with planning your next Workshop then why not get in touch here.

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