The Belgrade Theatre’s Theatre in Education (TiE) project, Big School is touring local primary schools with a brand new show this year to help Year Six pupils deal with the transition from primary to secondary school.
Delivered in partnership with the local authority, the Belgrade’s Big School project has been touring local primary schools in Coventry since 1999. This year pupils from 46 local primary schools will get to see a brand new, interactive production called Becoming Me, which was written by award-winning Dutch children’s playwright Marielle van Sauers.
Becoming Me tells the story of a group of adults who return to their primary school to talk to year six pupils about how to deal with the challenges ahead. Being in their old school brings back memories of their own transition to secondary school and they quickly move away from delivering a speech into the performance of their memories; from their last day of primary, through the long summer holidays to the first day of secondary school.
The play is based on a series of workshops carried out with Aldermoor Farm Primary School and Barrs Hill Secondary School, in which the older students encouraged the younger students to be themselves when making the transition to secondary school.
Justine Themen, Associate Director of the Belgrade’s Community & Education Company and Director of Becoming Me said the play remains true to this spirit of encouragement, but also provides some realism. “Becoming Me encourages the children it visits to remember their experiences in primary school, both good and bad, and to take those memories with them, because they have shaped who they are today. It also addresses some of the challenges that starting secondary school poses, such as the fear of bullying, getting lost in a larger school building, finding the work harder and having more than one teacher. It shows the children that they are coping with change all the time, so they already have the resources to manage this particular change.”
The characters in Becoming Me are played by actors Shereena Glean, Kim Hackleman and local actor Jon Morris, who first began acting as a member of the Belgrade Youth Theatre. For the first time since he left, Jon will be returning to his old primary school, Wyken Croft, as part of the Big School project.
Following the success of last year’s collaboration with secondary schools, the production will visit five secondary schools, including Cardinal Newman and Ernesford Grange, enabling some youngsters to see the production in the secondary school they will be attending in September.
The groundbreaking TiE movement was pioneered by the Belgrade Theatre in 1965 as a way to use theatre and drama to create a range of learning opportunities for young people. Actors from the Belgrade would tour local schools where they would perform short pieces of theatre and lead workshops that allowed students to explore important issues and ideas in active and creative ways. In 2015 the Belgrade will celebrate the 50th anniversary of TiE.