Theatre In The Woods Summer Course

August 5th, 2014 | Posted by Rachel - (0 Comments)

Here are the photos of our 3 day course for kids aged 9 – 12 years!  We had so much fun working in the woods in glorious shady sunshine.  The group was fantastic and we had a ball – I hope that the photos tell the story!


This summer we ran a creative family event in Ecclesall Wood. We created songs, stories, musical instruments and stick characters.  The session was packed with lots to do and room to develop your own ideas.  Parents and children, alike, had fun and loved working together.






Congratulations to all our Youth Theatre Members for putting on such a fantastic show for family members and friends of Growtheatre.  It was AMAZING!  Based on the stories we had gathered from our work with Toby and the archaeology students, our members devised, wrote, designed and rehearsed a promenade show in Ecclesall Woods.

It had comedy and laughs, time travel, magic and ‘very important archaeological facts’ mystery, intrigue tragedy and death, riots and Elizabeth ruffs, a prehistoric hunt and lots of audience participation!  Audience members were full of praise and delight and we were told it was better than going to the IMAX cinema!

Our young designers and actors did themselves proud with amazing costumes and props and memorable and strong performances – well done to you all!

Enjoy the pictures!

Yesterday Growtheatre was working in the woods with the lovely Education Team from Ecclesall Woods and Y4 pupils from Carterknowle Junior School. They were learning about the Iron Age Hill Fort in the woods and settlements. Check out the fantastic models they made of hill forts out of natural materials. In the afternoon I ran a drama session where we ‘built and lived’ in a settlement. The kids were friendly, creative, enthusiastic and a joy to be around! The whole day took place outdoors with sunshine peaking through the trees and bluebells as far as the eye could see. The torrential downpour started a minute after we had finished! Work doesn’t get much better than that.

Archaeology meets Theatre

May 1st, 2014 | Posted by Rachel - (0 Comments)

The Youth Theatre have loved working with archaeologist, Toby Pillatt and students from the University Of Sheffield and Toby has kindly agreed to share his experiences in our blog.

Over the past two months I’ve been working with students from the University of Sheffield to help Growtheatre learn about and dramatise aspects of Ecclesall Wood’s rich history. One area we have been focussing on is that of the enigmatic ‘Q-pits’ – Q-shaped earthworks that can be seen dotted throughout the woods. These were used from the 16th to 18th century to create whitecoal, a form super-dried wood used as a fuel for lead smelting.

We asked the children to develop characters associated with the Q-pits. These might be people from past, such as wood colliers and their wives, gamekeepers and outlaws, or they might be people from the present: archaeologists and their apprentices. I found it quite challenging to draw the line between ensuring the characters remained grounded in facts and letting the children’s abundant, often slightly zany, creativity shine through. Indeed, it was particularly interesting and amusing to see how the children’s archaeologists referenced myself!

This weekend these activities came together at the Ecclesall Woods Spring Open Day. Whilst the students built their own experimental Q-pit, the children performed in character, describing the process of making whitecoal and, hopefully, giving the audience an insight into woodland industry in the 18th century. Given the short time the children had to practice the roles, I think the result was superb and hugely entertaining.

Overall, I have been really impressed by the way the children have learnt about the past, and then used that new knowledge to spark their imaginations. It’s been really exciting collaboration to be involved in, and I hope to continue working on similar projects in the future.

Toby Pillatt

Discovering The Past

March 13th, 2014 | Posted by Rachel - (0 Comments)

On Thursday we started a new project at Growtheatre Youth Theatre.  We are working with an archaeologist called Toby and a small group of archaeology students to unearth and discover stories of the past.  We will then take these stories to create a performance for families and friends in the summer.

Tonight we put Toby, Kate and Rob on the hot seat and asked them tonnes of questions about archaeology – it was fascinating and the youth theatre members didn’t want to stop (they had so many brilliant questions!).  Next, we ooh part in excavating a test pit and found lots of amazing artefacts from Ecclesall Woods, some things were hundreds of years old!  After exploring what these objects were, youth theatre members and archaeologists created some brilliant freeze frames of ‘postcards from the past’.  Finally, we played an improvisation game – Toby got to be a 14 century King of the Woods and had to be persuaded by a range of characters to let them into his woods. Take a look!


Hotseating The experts

“Wish you we were we have just given away our most precious artefact to the gods.” Prehistoric Ecclesall Woods

“Wish you were here the food is nice and fresh.”
Ecclesall Woods, Iron Age Settlement

“Wish you were here my dear, you taste very nice! “
Ecclesall Woods, deer hunting in the 14 century

“Wish you were here, life’s great when you are in charge!
Ecclesall Woods, tree felling and the production of white coal

Begging King Toby to come into the woods!



Tool Session + Drama = Puppet Shows

February 9th, 2014 | Posted by Rachel - (0 Comments)

Henk came in this week and we had a fun packed session.  We refreshed knife skills for whittling and reminded ourselves of knots we have learnt and then with some wood, twine and things foraged from the woods. Everyone worked very hard and pretty much independently and designed their own puppet characters.  Those that got finished first went onto rehearse and perform puppet shows.  Lauren, Rudy and Dillon came up with 3 wonderful monologues with both a narrator and puppet character. We can’t wait to see everyone else’s next week.


Our First Youth Theatre Session of 2014!

January 25th, 2014 | Posted by Rachel - (0 Comments)

Thursday was the Youth Theatre’s first night back.  It was lovely to see everyone so delighted to see each other and made for a very fun evening session.  Despite the bad weather, we managed to get out into the dark outdoors for a vocal and physical warm up.  This term we are exploring dramatic ways to tell a story and we started with the idea of modernising traditional fairytales.  Our young people came up with some fabulous ideas and used a whole range of brilliant techniques to tell their stories. We saw some creative examples of physical theatre, playing multiple parts and narration. With their retellings of the Three Little Pigs, we saw tragedy, dark comedy and a hilarious TV spoof.

Recently, Sophie was asked to run a session for the Wakefield Creative Learning Network, based at The Hepworth Wakefield.  This network meets monthly, and is made up of primary, secondary and special education teachers, teaching assistants and artists who are interested in creative learning.  Sophie was asked to answer the enquiry question: “Pupil progress in creative subjects: how can you show progress when it’s not written?”.

During the two hour session Sophie focussed on examples of successful creative evaluation techniques that we have used in our various Growtheatre projects.  We discussed why taking ‘bad’ photos is useful, how post-it notes are the best thing to have in your pocket, learning journals, comic strips, learning walls and the successes of ‘interrupted progress’ in projects.  We shared learning and experiences within the group, laughed a lot and took home a load of practical ideas and inspiration.
“We really enjoyed your session this week… and we’d love to find a time to talk with you about further work at The Hepworth Wakefield”   Education team, Hepworth

Saturday 14 December

Free, Family Drama Workshop on

12.1.5 – 1.15

Come and join in the fun!

Collecting stories and memories of Ecclesall Woods

All day

Visit us on our stand outside the Woodland Discovery Centre, Ecclesall Woods and share your stories!