Reviewed by Deborah Girling
My 7 year old daughter and I went along to the Arts Centre in Buxton to take part in the Stories in Shadow and Sand Workshop, run by Funny Wonders Puppet Theatre.
Having been to Buxton Opera House many times before, it took me a few minutes to work out where the Arts Centre was. Having found it, I was impressed by the light, airy and modern feel to the centre.
Having never been to a puppet workshop before, I was unsure if what to expect. We were led I to the auditorium where tables and chairs were set out in front of the stage area. On the stage was a vast array of craft materials, lights and the all-important screen for the shadow puppets.
Once the crew had introduced themselves, they explained the aims of the workshop to the children; that they were to work in pairs or small groups to present a story through puppetry (known or one of their own) using the various techniques on offer (shadow, sand, water). The children were given very little direction really and I wondered how the children would respond.
My daughter paired up with a like-minded girl and very soon the ideas were flowing! They were excited and enthusiastic about their task so set to work on their story straight away.
The children could use all of the resources to make their puppets, freely. The crew circulated, giving advice, ideas and encouragement to the children as their stories developed. My daughter really got the feeling that she was part of something and worked tirelessly with her partner for 2 hours designing and making puppets and scenery and choosing music to accompany their story.
At the end, we all sat in front of the stage with the lights down and each group were given the opportunity to perform their puppet show on the stage. The performances were absolutely brilliant considering how little time and guidance they had been given. The children were treated as real performers and you could sense their pride and confidence on stage.
My daughter has been on an absolute high all day today and hasn’t stopped talking about it. She’s already planning on writing her next show! I can only begin to list what my daughter got out of this workshop; confidence, social skills, Literacy skills. At only £4 per child, this workshop offers outstanding value for money and we’re already on the lookout for the next one we can attend!
For more information and other workshops at the Buxton Pavilion Arts Centre click here.
Buxton Opera House, Water Street, Buxton, Derbyshire, SK17 6XN | 0845 127 2190