1st February 2018
Ashton Group Theatre received £7,000 from the Barrow Community Trust and Dulverton Trust to get children aged 4-11 years old involved in a week-long production looking at the causes and effects of bullying, and how it can be avoided and survived.
The ‘Christmas Spread’ was made up a series of performances, put on over five days in December last year at Cook’s Studios in Barrow. After speaking with each other about bullying at school, the children came up with performance ideas, which address issues around bullying and how to overcome it.
The project was designed for young children, the majority of whom were under nine, with many having learning and behavioural difficulties, physical disabilities, and some having culturally diverse backgrounds.
The children worked alongside professional artists, using improvisation, meaning that everyone could contribute their ideas. All the pieces of work were produced, scripted and performed by the youngsters. The aim was to help them develop concentration, confidence in their ideas, co-operation, tolerance, listening skills and the ability to share.
Rachel Ashton, Artistic Director of Ashton Group Theatre, said: “By creating the productions themselves, the children had an enormous sense of their own achievements. Performing for their families and friends was a challenge for many of them. To pull this off is so encouraging for them.”
Rachel tells how one girl of mixed heritage was particularly helped: “The girl’s mum is German. Since Brexit she has been the object of racially motivated bullying and suffered other children shouting at her in the street to ‘go home’. At the start of the project she was tearful and afraid. As part of the project she performed a very difficult extract from the Tempest in which Caliban stands up to his tormentor, the wizard Prospero. We watched the young girl grow in confidence as she conquered this very difficult text”.