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“Drama is a good way to learn history because it helps me remember things..."

May 1, 2018

On the 22nd March five different schools shared short performances at the Exeter Phoenix to a packed auditorium. Students’ performances were inspired by what they’d learnt with PaddleBoat Theatre Company in weekly drama sessions exploring Clare Hollingworth. Schools included Rydon Primary, Southbrook School, Exeter Royal Academy for Deaf Education, Clyst St Mary and St Sidwells Primary.



Southbrook We worked with a fantastic group of Year 9 students who created a performance about WWII displacement. Students explored those people who had to leave home - soldiers, refugees, evacuees and journalists such as Clare Hollingworth. We explored how they might feel, where they might go and how they’d contact their family back home. Students wrote short letters, imagining they were evacuees arriving in the countryside. Using physical theatre, song and narration students created a performance from scratch. All the Year 9s used this project as an opportunity to expand their learning about the Second World War.


"Usually I hate all that war stuff and just didn’t understand it. But ever since we’ve been doing this, I’ve understood it a lot. In terms of both my English and my history work. I now understand more about Clare going to Poland and the war and invading. I was always a bit confused before. I enjoyed every day working with you." - Emma.



Rydon Primary Our youngest group, 60 year 2 students worked really hard to grasp the wider context of WWII. For their performance they became journalists and created a theatrical report about Clare, her life and career. Read more about Rydon’s performance in our previous blog.


St Sidwell’s We worked with each class to introduce Clare’s story to every student at the school - which meant that it wasn’t until after half term that we got to start working with our Year 4 group to create a final piece for the sharing.With just a few weeks to work, they did an amazing job, focusing on early events in Clare’s life and creating news reports to share the information with the audience.



Their piece ended with an ensemble section that used movement and sound to show how Clare’s ‘Big Scoop’ spread throughout the country and made history, culminating in Neville Chamberlain’s famous broadcast declaring war on Germany…


“This morning the British Ambassador in Berlin handed the German Government a final Note stating that, unless we heard from them by 11 o'clock that they were prepared at once to withdraw their troops from Poland, a state of war would exist between us.

I have to tell you now that no such undertaking has been received, and that consequently this country is at war with Germany.” See the full speech here. Hear it here.