TiSS extends reach to include nursery children for the first time

3 May 2018

A ground-breaking project to introduce more children to high quality theatre by taking productions into school gym halls and other community settings across Scotland is reaching pre-school children as young as two for the first time. 

Starcatchers’ The Attic, our intimate and participative theatre experience for 2-5-year-olds has visited 12 nurseries, schools and community settings in seven local authority areas during April and May as part of Theatre in Schools Scotland (TiSS), of which Starcatchers is a founding partner.

This is the first time that the pilot project has been extended to include audiences of pre-school age. One of the schools, Kirkcaldy North Primary, even invited residents of a local care home to watch the performance with the nursery children, creating a unique intergenerational community experience.

Rhona Matheson, Chief Executive of Starcatchers said: “At Starcatchers we specialise in creating productions and arts experiences for very young audiences – for babies just a few weeks old up to the age of 5. We know how powerful their responses can be to a range of artistic experiences, for example, live music, physical theatre, puppetry – all of which The Attic offers – and that the positive impact goes beyond the moment of the performance.

“Central to our work is making sure that more people see and understand the often instinctive, joyous response that very young children have to all kinds of art, and the possibilities for learning and development that can stem from that experience.

“That’s why we are so delighted that Theatre in Schools, which was already reaching out to communities where many children don’t get the opportunity to experience theatre, has extended its reach to include younger children in its programme.”

In its third year TiSS is offering two productions aimed a pre-school and early level primary pupils. As well as The Attic by Hazel Darwin-Clements, Poggle presented by Barrowland Ballet and Macrobert Arts Centre for nursery, P1 and P2 will tour later this year.

TiSS is aiming to create and test a touring and producing model that could ultimately bring one piece of high quality theatre to every school and nursery child in Scotland, each year.

The Attic is already touring to theatre venues across Scotland. The cast and crew have adapted the set to ensure it can be set up and dismantled quickly and with ease.

Hazel Darwin-Clements, creator of The Attic and performing the role of Lucy, said: “We get up at the crack of dawn, navigate across the country, practice some nifty lifting, building and highly skilled van unpacking techniques, and then after the shows we do it all in reverse! Luckily, as more work is happening like this in Scotland we’re growing in skill and confidence as to what can be achieved on this scale, and our excellent backstage team have made it run like a dream. One of the things I love about taking The Attic to schools is how children and teachers are amazed when the set magically appears in their gym hall!

“My favourite thing about touring into nurseries and schools is hearing 60 nursery/ P1 children laughing at the comedy in the show. It’s so great to reach children who wouldn’t otherwise get taken to the theatre. For so many it’s their first experience of seeing a live performance like this and even the littlest ones in the audience are spellbound by it.

“Well done Starcatchers, you have made some beautiful memories for our community and helped us strengthen the intergenerational learning opportunities in our area.” Kirsty Woodhouse, Principal Teacher, Kirkcaldy North Primary School

Theatre in Schools Scotland is presented by National Theatre of Scotland and Imaginate in partnership with Catherine Wheels Theatre Company, Starcatchers and Visible Fictions and is supported by the Scottish Salmon Company and Culture and Business Scotland.

Find out more about Theatre In Schools Scotland at http://www.theatreinschoolsscotland.com