Pupils from Prior’s Court School took some time out from their usual activities on Monday to enjoy a magical, fun-filled day of creative theatre, music and art culminating in performances of Michael Rosen’s Bear Hunt, thanks to Thrift, a Newbury-based company who aim to harness the power of the arts to make learning irresistible.
All pupils at Prior’s Court have autism and experience severe difficulties with their communication and social interaction skills. The day was carefully planned in advance by Luci Malyon, class teacher at Prior’s Court, Tim Godwin from Thrift and drama therapist, Jules Rawlins. This thorough planning meant that Tim and Jules were able to elicit positive and spontaneous interaction between themselves, the pupils and the staff supporting, resulting in what Luci described as a “joyous occasion”. As Tim explained “There was a wonderful, refreshing partnership of artists, teachers, carers and learners that helped to make the day so successful. We worked with Luci and the school to plan the session, and then experimented through the day, focussing on what worked. It was wonderful to experiment and make discoveries together.”
Throughout the day, pupils made props for the performances, such as the grass, the mud and the forest, and then practiced within their class groups the sounds and movements of their part of the performance, such as the swishing grass or the squelching mud. Finally, staff and students came together from across the school for a performance of the full story, using the actions they had practised and props they had made within their classes.
The day was a huge success for everyone involved. Some students loved the music and movement parts of the performance, while others appreciated the sensory feeling of “snow” fall and walking through the dark cave.