Hull Truck Theatre to launch city-wide learning programme supporting education at home

Instead of students returning to school at the start of term, 2021 hasn’t got off to the start that we were hoping for, as homes across the country have once again become classrooms. 

Recognising the mounting pressure on parents, carers and teachers to keep students engaged, Hull Truck Theatre has stepped in with the launch of a new city-wide, month long learning programme for schools and educators to use as part of their lesson planning. 

Hull Truck @ Home School will run throughout February and will be available to support students, parents and teachers.
Hull Truck @ Home School will run throughout February and will be available to support students, parents and teachers. 

Running throughout February, Hull Truck @ Home School will introduce young audiences to drama and theatre making with a glimpse into a “behind the scenes” of the creative industry. The specialist programmes of work will engage both primary and secondary school learners, helping to harness both literacy and drama skills.

Key Stage 1 and 2 students (5 – 11 year olds) will have access to a twice weekly “drop” of video and downloadable printable learning resources, every Tuesday and Thursday, which can be accessed via a dedicated area on the Hull Truck website. 

Entitled Create & Play the primary learning programme, will comprise of eight online drama lessons (approximately 10 minutes each) which have been written specially for each Key Stage audience. Available on-demand, they can be accessed at any time after the publication date and incorporated into weekly lesson plans.

Key Stage 1 resources will include engaging content, exercises and activities centred around famous children’s stories, such as The Three Billy Goats Gruff. Key Stage 2 will cover a broad range of subjects from storytelling, to stand-up and poetry, and feature a number of famous faces who will help deliver the sessions, including Nicola Stephenson (Mrs Hubble, BBC TV’s adaptation of The Worst Witch) and Amy Thompson (Channel 5’s Milkshake!). 

Working with Hull-based secondary school pupils and their teachers, Hull Truck Theatre is also producing an original soap opera called Consequences. Set in Hull during lockdown, writers, actors and a Hull Truck Theatre director will work with students to generate ideas, write scripts and guide direction, culminating in the production of a 25-minute weekly episode which will air on Hull Truck Theatre’s YouTube channel every Friday at 5pm.

The project will comprise of 12 sessions, with two-hour classes taking place every day from Monday to Thursday. Classes will consist of drama exercises, dramatic writing, coaching and directing actors. 

Janthi Mills-Ward, Hull Truck Theatre Executive Director, said: “We understand and empathise with the challenges facing teachers, parents and the city’s young people, which is why as a key cultural contributor within the local community we felt passionate about stepping up to offer our support, creating something relevant, creative and engaging. The grant we received from ACE as part of the Cultural Recovery Fund in October 2020 has been instrumental in ensuring we can deliver a project of this nature – vitally keeping our local communities connected. 

“Although we’re currently unable to reopen our doors to welcome audiences back to see work on-stage, we have been able to repurpose our creativity through designing a city-wide learning programme which will benefit Hull’s young people and teachers. The content builds on key skills such as literacy, with an injection of theatre and drama. We’re also proud that this project has enabled us to support the creative industry, as we’ve employed 20 freelancers to support the delivery of the project, including writers, composers and actors.

“Our Youth Theatre provision continues to be delivered weekly via the powers of Zoom. We have made these sessions free for participants for the rest of the term, using the donations kindly gifted by audiences who enjoyed Prince Charming’s Christmas Cracker. This creative platform offers young people a much-needed outlet for escapism and some fun with their peers.”

Hull secondary schools that have already signed up to take part in the soap opera project include, Boulevard Academy, Sirius North Academy, Ron Dearing UTC and Archbishop Sentamu Academy. 

Annie Cooper, Head of English at The Boulevard Academy, said: “As a school we are always looking for amazing opportunities for our students and so we jumped at the chance to be involved. Such an exciting project would always be a welcome addition to our English and creative arts curriculum but it is especially important at the moment when there are so few opportunities for students to be involved in creative activities in the wider world. This is a great chance for our students to experience the wonderful world of theatre and develop their writing and creative talents alongside professionals; I know they are going to find it immensely rewarding.”

If you are educating from home and would like to access the Create & Play learning resources but have limited access to a computer or printing facilities, please contact Hull Truck Theatre via engagement@hulltruck.co.uk to arrange getting printed copies sent directly to your home address.

For more information about Hull Truck @ Home School, visit www.hulltruck.co.uk/homeschool 

[Emma Lightowler – Hull Truck Theatre]