Great War drama brings new success to education favourite

The moving story of a boy fighting in World War One has helped a Swansea cultural initiative win powerful approval ratings.

New figures show that the city's annual Schools Theatre Project is rated by 97% of participating teachers as "excellent."
The most recent staging of the event centred on play The White Feather, a poignant fictional account of how a young boy - wishing to impress his father - enlisted. He then fought in the Battle of Mametz Wood where South Wales battalions suffered grave losses.
The annual scheme, thought to be unique to Swansea, has run for 29 years. It is delivered by Swansea Council's Museum Service in partnership with award-winning bilingual organisation Theatr na nÓg and National Waterfront Museum.
Robert Francis-Davies, the council's cabinet member for investment, regeneration and tourism, said: "I congratulate all those involved in the Schools Theatre Project.
"The most recent staging saw nearly 6,000 young people see The White Feather and attend World War One workshops, attracted more than £50,000 of funding to the city and involved nearly 100 schools.
"The external funding means that this is a low-cost exercise for schools, one with which they offer many pupils their first event experience of live theatre.
"Around half of the schoolchildren who took part were from Communities First areas, a focus for tackling poverty.
"There are very few, if any, UK projects of this nature, with such a long history and with such continuing success."

Geinor Styles, artistic director at Theatr na nÓg, said: "We are very grateful to Swansea Council for providing us a foundation to enable young people to engage with their culture and history and to make it part of their day-to-day learning. This has resulted in this event being unique not only to Wales but the UK."
Every autumn, the Schools Theatre Project in Swansea sees schools undertake classroom work alongside a day at cultural and heritage venues in Swansea Marina.
Last autumn's cultural programme included hands-on and interactive workshops at both Swansea Museum and the National Waterfront Museum. Children were able to discuss roles with actors and learn more about the First World War's impact on Wales.
Activity was carried out in English and Welsh. Some schools took part in activity with Swansea University's Technocamps outreach programme.
Philip Bendle, the key stage two lead at Morriston Primary School, said: "The play was excellent and very moving. There was an outstanding presentation by Swansea Museum. All the children enjoyed the activity and were moved by the experience."
Birchgrove Primary School said that this "truly brilliant" project combined "pathos, tension, angst and - remarkably - humour."
Blaenymaes Primary School said: "A day out like this is invaluable for primary schools. Every child should have the chance to watch a live performance like this, especially when it is linked to local history."
One 10-year-old guest said: "I loved the activities in the museum! The play told me everything about the war; I didn't know how horrible it had been. I had a great time and really enjoyed it."
Funders in 2018 included The Colwinston Trust, Arts Council of Wales, and that organisation's Go and See scheme.
Preparations are now being made for this year's 30th anniversary staging of Schools Theatre.

The full project evaluation can be read by clicking the attached pdf.

pdf document: 

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