“Don’t move! Whatever you do, stand still – I think you are about to crush a lesser spotted spit weasel, and they are very, very rare, very rare indeed in this forest! You there, young wood mice, can you help me catch it?”
Dame Hermione Horehound, sister to the great explorer Sir Hugo Horehound, erupts through the undergrowth, waving a huge net and brandishing a magnifying glass. Keen to protect the forests and all their creatures, she is set upon her quarry, immediately capturing the audience, and drawing them into her story…
The Walking Theatre Company was contacted by the leaders of the Moray Wildlife Watch Group, a junior branch of the Scottish Wildlife Trust, to discuss a project which was in it’s very early stages, which would see the beloved children’s books ‘Brambly Hedge’ written by Jill Barklem, come to life!
When ‘Brambly Hedge’ went to Gordon Castle!
TWTC were then commissioned to create a weekend of performance based workshops and events, to engage the youth group with the performing arts and the outdoor environment, inspired by the ‘Brambly Hedge’ children’s books.
The ‘Brambly Hedge’ books are beloved children’s classics, written by English author Jill Barklem, and explore the lives of the mice and woodland creatures that live in the fictional wood of Brambly Hedge.
The Watch Group Leaders were keen for the youth group to be involved in a performance, to allow them to develop such skills and given them confidence in presenting themselves through drama.
The project was funded by Scottish Natural Heritage, and was fully supported by the Scottish Wildlife Trust, and the Brambly Hedge estate.
TWTC created a weekend of workshop events for both Leaders and Youths from the Watch Group to take part in, leading up to an interactive ‘walking’ theatre performance, in which the youth group would be cast. There was also a themed food-demonstration post-performance for audience and performers to enjoy.
The cast was made up of professional actors from The Walking Theatre Company working as ‘artists in residence’ on the project, and the team of ‘youth’ actors from the Moray Wildlife Watch Group. Working together in a professional, structured, creative environment, the play was performed outdoors in the grounds of Gordon Castle, Fochabers, as a ‘walking’ theatre piece, bringing to life a play inspired by the beloved, world-renowned works of Jill Barklems’ ‘Brambly Hedge’.
The aims of the Adult Workshop was to engage the leaders with the performing arts, and ways in which they can use such skills when working with their youth group.
The performance skills the Watch Group Leaders gained from this workshop will allow the Leaders to host similar performance based sessions with their youth group in the future, benefitting not only the Watch Group youth, but also others in the surrounding area.
TWTC has successfully developed a working model to engage younger aspiring performers in working theatre experiences. The ‘Brambly Hedge’ project gave us an ideal opportunity to work with the Moray Wildlife Watch Group by creating a professional theatre working experience for the youth to develop their skills in performance, confidence, communication, presentation, projection, as well as their creative skillsets, as the workshops included song, movement, script, and costume development for the final performance.
TWTC created a fun-filled, upbeat play, within which the characters created by our in-house playwright, told their stories and were aided by the youth cast who performed alongside TWTC’s team of three professional actors.
The drama was especially effective in bringing ‘Brambly Hedge’ to life, being highly visual, interactive, and fun. The performance allowed the children to show off their talents to a specially invited audience, and put the skills they developed at the previous days workshop into immediate use.
The performance concluded with a specially adapted TWTC ‘Flying Kitchen’. This outdoor theatre food demonstration was led by a professional chef, and assisted by our TWTC actors, all of who remained in character throughout the food session. The food demonstration allowed both performers and audience members of all ages, to enjoy, participate in, an educational outdoor kitchen demonstration, and even to taste some of the delicious wild food creations.
TWTC’s ‘Play-in-a-day’ programme is a great way to engage youth groups of all ages with the performing arts, the great outdoors, and themes or messages linked to the play. Adapting, as in the case of ‘Brambly Hedge’, or creating a new script to suit the objectives of the site/group involved, the TWTC team fly in to work with youth teams all over Scotland. Facilitating workshops that develop a variety of skills from performance, voice, and presentation, confidence building, ‘powering down’, and understanding the value of the environment, teamwork, and connection. The youth team is then work-shopped into their own production, which can be performed with the professional TWTC actors, to an audience the following day. Using the environment to devise ‘theatre’ and to inspire creative play really engages younger participants to connect to the open environment and all the fantastic inspiration that a location, such as a forest or woodland, has to offer by creating memorable outdoor experiences.
For more information on those who helped make this event such a success, please click the links below:
Contact TWTC for more details on this project, and out ‘Play-in-a-day’ programme!
Email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call us on 01369 820 115.