3 schools, 6 months, lots of fun

Absolute Theatre worked with primary-age children from 3 boroughs in London – Newham, Camden and Waltham Forest – in the spring and summer terms of 2022. Participants were encouraged to consider what being a Londoner meant to them. At the start of each schools’ engagement, children were asked to sum up in a word or short phrase what London meant to them and how they felt about their local areas.

Exploring the subject involved research, local history, conversations with older people about the three respective areas, visits to museums and other locations and creating presentations about what had been discovered. Eleanor Palmer and Monega Primary Schools put on shows and the third school (Mission Grove in Walthamstow) made three short films, two of which were dramas. This approach reflected the area’s historical links with film-making and studios and led to a session exploring stop-frame animation. Participants were very much involved in the writing and filming of the films, which were shown to children and parents at a special evening in the school.

It is hard to quantify how beneficial to self-esteem and group-bonding learning through drama and movement can be for young people. As is often the case, it is the individual stories that are the most heart-warming; a father coming up after a presentation to express his gratitude for how his daughter “is so happy to have had the chance to take part” in the project and how it had transformed her mood; parents clearly moved by watching previously shy children on a stage proudly and loudly performing for the first time ever, or the year 5 student that wrote “I appreciate you… teaching us new things. When I first saw you walk into our classroom, I was nervous but as the weeks have passed, you’ve really helped me be more confident… Thank you so much!”

“It was incredible!!! We are very keen to work with the team again” Elizabeth Harris, Head teacher, Monega Primary School
‘Because I’m A Londoner’ was funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and The Backstage Trust