Get creative with our interactive and unique workshops

20th June 2023

At the Play’s The Thing Theatre Company, it is very important to us that we share our theatre experience, creativity and knowledge with all people, whatever their age and background and whether they are professionally trained or not.

Our Artistic Director, Rosemary Hill, works with a range of local theatre practitioners to allow us to offer more opportunities to local people, such as school workshops, business courses and role play, professional training, teacher training and more. We have worked with over 2000 students since 2021.

As expert practitioners, we help to empower our students by giving them the tools to help them express their creativity and build on their ideas in a nurturing and inspiring environment.

Most recently we have hosted workshops for 15 and 16 year olds that run alongside our Hidden Stories nationwide tour, which started in March and runs until July.

Hidden Stories comprises of two short playlets that look at the untold stories behind the two famous cases of Ruth Ellis and Edith Thompson, who were both hanged for murder. The cases are tragic, and Edith’s is seen to be one of the worst miscarriages of justice in the UK. You can find out more about it here

The plays uncover a great deal of information that never came out during the trial and it’s in our workshops that we look deeper into the ‘hidden stories’, not only in these cases but other ones too.

We delivered workshops at Warwick Boys School to two Year 10 groups of 15 each. We looked at three well known miscarriages of justice – Bentley and Craig, Timothy Evans and John Reginald Christie. In both these cases an innocent man was hanged. Then we looked at the more recent case of Sally Challen who served nine years in prison for murder but then was released when her case was reviewed, and her crime was reduced to manslaughter after the defence of “coercive control” was recognised.

We started each session with a warmup and an introduction of legal terms like “joint enterprise”, “diminished responsibility”, “coercive control" and then in groups of 5 each practitioner dealt with one case by firstly just giving the bare facts, but then introducing more evidence of the mitigating circumstances. We worked on “hot seating” the various characters in each case. The students really took to this exercise and some interesting discussions followed. We wanted to see if the students changed their minds about the death sentence when more evidence was produced. Could they see that things were never black and white? It’s the shades of grey which give us a better picture. It was interesting to see some students remained steadfast to their view, but others did begin to question how “safe” some convictions were. We also worked in a final devising exercise as a jumping off point for further work.

In the evening the students then had the chance to see the two plays which dealt with two very famous legal cases – Ruth Ellis in “Now You See Me” by Carly Halse and Edith Thompson in “Darlint Peidi” by Rosemary Hill.

We are looking forward to doing more workshops following this pattern at MK College very shortly.

Rosemary says: “These workshops have so far been hugely successful as it has opened up our students’ minds and made them realise that real life cases are not so black and white. There is often more to the story, which we don’t always hear about. Miscarriages of justice can happen, and they do, a little too often.

It’s been exciting to watch how each student reacts and interacts with the information we give and the discussions around what they would do differently next time. You can see their creativity igniting as they reach their decisions, which is what these workshops are all about. It has been interesting to watch and eye-opening for those taking part.

We carefully devise all our workshops to ensure we not only give our students the tools and information they need to succeed, but also, they are able to immerse themselves, be inspired and realise their full potential.

In addition to our current workshop, we enjoy collaborating with local schools and colleges to host other interactive sessions and workshops for students, such as stage make-up and projects based on curriculum texts.

We also offer fun training days for teachers to show them how theatre can be used effectively in the classroom to teach all subjects across all key stages. Rosemary enjoys these workshops as she has vast experience of making teacher training materials for the BBC, Open University, National College for School Leadership and The Department for Education.

If you’re a local business, our workshops extend to presentation techniques, public speaking and innovative and creative thinking sessions that really get those creative juices flowing!

We also work with many actors, playwrights, directors and producers, that are all at different points within their career. We teach a range of sessions from audition techniques and stage combat to playwriting and improvision.

Rosemary says: “People can have a natural talent of course, but training helps develop that. We are here to build people up. Acting, directing and producing takes skill and years of practice to become really good, but everyone has to start somewhere and so our workshops are open to everyone. Even if you are at the top of your game, you can still learn and get even better.

If you’re interested in being part of one of our workshops or finding out more about how we can work together, please get in touch