One of the most exciting and unique strands of the Pass It On project are our Playboxes. These are a multi-usage teaching resource that we have been developing with local partner schools, using the Festival Theatre’s archive to support key-curricular learning in class. Our three boxes, ‘Performance’, ‘Construction’ and ‘People’ can be used to cover a whole range of subject areas, from English to Drama and even Maths and Science. We’ve focused on Key Stage 2 at primary school level, but as the Playboxes have been used in their ‘proto-type’ phase, some teachers have liked them so much they’ve used them with a whole range of different ages and abilities.
In July 2014, we sent our Performance Box out to all of our schools. Last term, our ‘Construction’ Box, all about the founding and building of the Festival Theatre, went out to our new partner school, The March. The class’ curricular module was ‘Mighty Metals’; we took this as a great opportunity to show off all the building materials that were used both in 1962 and as part of the RENEW project. The architecture of the Grade II* listed Theatre is extremely important to share, so as part of the work that the class was doing with the artefacts we gave them, they also came along to see them in practice at the Theatre.
On 5 November, we were visited by 30 children who took over the Theatre, going on a sort of ‘treasure hunt’ to find where all the building materials we had given them samples of were used. They were asked to find hexagonal tiles, blue glass, copper piping, and floor linoleum to name but a few. The letters we received after their visit reinforced the notion that the bits that make up the stage really are as exciting as what gets performed on top of it:
“Dear Festival Theatre,
I wanted to write and thank you all for a great time at the theatre. I loved looking at all of the different parts of the stage and the metals used in making a brilliant building…
“Dear the Theatre,
Thank you for telling us what the theatre does. I really enjoyed seeing the dressing rooms. The copper pipes were fascinating…
Our three Playboxes will be rolled out and tested by all of our partner schools from January 2015. The final boxes will be officially ready for use in September 2015.