Archive for the ‘Schools Project’ Category

DX 399/1 20

April 30, 2010

Documentation of  The Corner Shop School and Community Project 2009-10 is now in archive box DX 399/1 – 20 at City Archives Wolverhampton in the pink zone! Six children from Class 5 – Aliona, Hannah, Humza, Joel, Shivm, Sumaia – Mrs Bansal and myself all walked up to the hill through the rain to deliver the box. 

setting off...

When we got there, we were surprised to find a display all about our project in the entrance hall.


John, the conservator, checked through the contents of the box. He was fine about us putting in one of the shadow puppets from the show and some hair swept up from the floor of Ikbal’s Hairstyles!  Alongside are recorded interviews with the Whitmore Reans community, sound recordings the children made, a DVD of the performance, photographs documenting the whole project including the trip to the shops, pictures the children drew, and more…

checking contents of the box

He catalogued the box.


We then headed off to the Pink Zone to put it on its shelf!

The zone!

It’s there for anyone to request to see, for prosperity.

home of the archive box

And so the project starts and finishes with a box…

how it all began...

A big thank you to Class 5 and staff of West Park Primary, to City Archives, and to the shopping community of Whitmore Reans for all that they contributed to such an enriching and thoroughly enjoyable project.

Lisa Harrison, Learning and Participation Co-ordinator, Foursight Theatre


Evaluation of School & Community Project

March 13, 2010

When I went in to evaluate with West Park, I gave them  pomegranate –  symbol of abundance and prosperity – with my words of thanks to the children written on it. I also gave each child a clementine, as the puppet had done to Zaynab at the end of our play, symbolising a handing over of fruitful promise. And I gave them the same sorts of sweets I’d sent right at the beginning of the project inside the mystery box. All of these things I bought in local corner shops.

Each child drew an evaluative picture, or wrote a poem, which encapsulated something of their experience of being in the Corner Shop project. Whilst they did so, I went round and talked to each child, asking them what they thought they’d got out of the project. There is too much to report here. Most of the comments are on our website for all to read, under—Participant-Quotes/. There are also many images for you to browse through at your leisure, which tell some of the story of  the Whitmore Reans’ Corner Shop project—Images/.

Here are just a few comments, to whet your appetite…

Ramah:  Now I think it’s better to shop in the small shops, not the big ones.

Shivm: Before I thought the whole class couldn’t like succeed in anything, because we didn’t work together, but now, because we’re working together, we can really do something.

Randeep: I liked going to the archives, and visiting all the shops, and watching the Corner Shop production, and mostly I enjoyed doing the play and our assembly. 

Haroon: I enjoyed how we made everything for our production, how we put everything together and how we made our own big play.
Sinead: I learned that I think I could be an actress. I never knew that before.  

Chamandeep: I feel more confident now. 

Joel: I don’t have stage fright! Now I know I don’t have to have stage fright!  

Zaynab: I learnt how to interview people.

Class Teacher: I’m struggling to say how it could have been improved. The rewards of being part of this project have been so great. I think it’s made the children very proud to be who they are. It brought history to life for them and made it real. I think understanding where people’s families came from and what happened when they came to this country has made the children a lot more empathetic to all of the different people we have in our community.

Head teacher: I think it has been excellent. The children have got so much out of it. And the rest of the school has learnt something about the area too, even if they haven’t participated in the project. The school’s relationship with the community and with the parents has benefitted.


Lisa Harrison, Foursight’s Learning & Participation Co-ordinator

Class 5’s Triumph!

January 27, 2010

It’s hard to believe, but the Corner Shop School and Community Production is now over, which means it is the end of the project…

…or is it?

Class 5 performed to two packed houses last Friday. Shopkeepers, tea party guests, archvisits, theatre people, parents, grandparents and 65 other children came to the promenade production, which took them on a journey of the hall, library and cookery room through stories of Whitmore Reans’ past, a fabric shop, a barber’s, a fishmonger’s (yes – with real fish!), and an intimate shared kitchen. They feasted on delicious foods, smelled raw fish, watched hauntingly beautiful shadow puppetry, heard the most fantastic vocal soundscapes, and were totally absorbed by the most rivetting performances.

None left disappointed.

“I thought the show was fantastic!  I was overwhelmed with it all: their acting, the way that they spoke – they were brilliant! The food, the dresses! I look forward to seeing anything that they’re doing again. Anything!”  (tea party interviewee and audience member)

 “What was so impressive was the obvious enjoyment, commitment and focus of the children across the board. They have clearly had a ball – and learned so many skills. They answered questions so well too!” (university lecturer and audience member)

“I hope that one day some of them will become actors, because of this piece of work”  (shopkeeper and audience member)

” This has really helped my son with his confidence. He’s really come out of his shell and it’s lovely. And the play was spot on!” (parent and audience member)

The children’s growth in confidence as performers was enormous, right through from the dress rehearsal, to the first and then the second performance. 

One audience member and interviewee from the tea party asked the question: “So what next? What’s going to happen with all of this?”

Nicole – the student placement from Wolverhampton University, who has helped on the project throughout – answered: “I think the children will carry this project in their minds forever. It will continue through the way they behave and shop in their local community. They understand the value and the importance of supporting local small businesses as opposed to the big chain stores. So the project will live on through the choices they make, and how they pass that on to their children and grandchildren.”

Today Year 5 did their class assembly on the whole process of the Corner Shop project in front of the school – from receiving the mystery box back in October to the final performances.

This week I  go in to evaluate the whole project with the children and staff. 

We then need to discuss what the children want to put in the archive box for us deposit at the City Archives.  I’m told also that audience members have been sending in letters of thanks to the children for their wonderful performance.

So perhaps this isn’t the end afterall…

Lisa Harrison – Foursight Theatre’s education and outreach co-ordinator

Devising with Class 5

January 18, 2010

Well, the impossible has happened: class 5 of West Park Primary School has devised a play in 4 days! On Thursday we rehearse it, and on Friday we perform it, to two audiences! At the end of the fourth devising day, one pupil said very poignantly: “When I think back to when we received that mystery box, and where we are now, it’s incredible really!”

Talk about focused work! Class 5 has done itself more than proud. They’re still brimming with ideas, their performances keep growing and improving,  as does their understanding of what entertaining and meaningful ensemble theatre is.

Purvin, the designer, and Heather, the sound artist, have joined us the last 4 days to help realise our vision. Taking our inspiration from Foursight and BCT’s Corner Shop Co-Production in the Mander Centre, and the many people we’ve met in Whitmore Reans whilst doing our research, we’ve made what promises to be a truly unique promenade production.

The tea party interviewees, and many of the shop keepers we interviewed are coming to the show, plus Year 4 and Year 6, as well as parents, of course. We are all very excited and can’t wait to hear what they think of our work.

Lisa Harrison









Class 5’s Tea Party

December 16, 2009

We finished Part 1 of the Corner Shop School and Community Project by inviting people in from the local community to share their stories about the local shops with us.

It turned out to be much more than a simple swap of stories for cake.  The visitors ended up learning a lot about the school and neighbourhood from their hosts, and the children were able to put into practise both their skills in interviewing  and in providing hospitality. 

“I’ve learnt more about Whitmore Reans this morning in this school than I have in the 40 years that I’ve lived here!” said one community member. 

The children’s ambition with this project was singled out and praised by the visitors and Class 5 was heartily encouraged in their endeavours.

So all round, it was a most nourishing experience, after which we were stuffed with vast quantities of sensational cake and fabulous stories, and warmed by the generosity of spirit which had underpinned the whole morning’s exchange.

“Thank you,” said one guest. “That’s been the best day I’ve had for 3 years. At last I feel useful again”

Afterwards the children filmed each other commenting on the tea party and the project so far:

“I really liked interviewing people and finding out new stories.”

“Today I found out that Dorothy was 12 years old when World War 2 started.”

“I found out that in Hungary,where one interviewee came from as a refugee, people used to have to queue for every item they bought .”

“I especially enjoyed the theatre trip to the Mander Centre, because the show was fun and really interesting.”

“I’ve really liked meeting new people. In fact, I’ve liked everything we’ve done so far, and want to do it all again. But I’m going to do some new stuff in this project after the holidays.”

Too right! Research has to stop now! We’ve got a play to make! The pressure is now on to create something which will reflect the rich and wonderful stories so generously given to us by our local community. Thank you Whitmore Reans! Here’s wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

PS For those needing tips on how to create a tea party that rocks, ask Class 5!

Lisa Harrison, Education and Outreach co-ordinator

Update on School and Community Project

November 26, 2009

Since the last School and Community blog, soooooo much has happened!

Class 5 saw the show in the Mander Centre and were wowed by it.  The resounding desire afterwards was summed up in Randeep’s comment: “We want to do our own Corner Shop production now”. So our task is set. 

First job: research! And we’re doing it thoroughly! At the City Archives we spent the morning looking at old maps, photos of Whitmore Reans’ main shopping street as it has been in times past, and images of old shops. The class designed their own shop fronts: there were bakeries, sweet shops, butchers, toy shops,  motor bike shops, just-about-anything-you-can-think-of shops!

Where do I live?

map work - where's my street?


shop front designers


Victorian toy shop design


outside the old Molineux Hotel - now the City Archives

Next up: gathering stories! We prepared for our trip out to the local shops in Whitmore Reans to interview shop keepers about their lives.

Six groups of five children visited a total of 18 small businesses along or near the Newhampton Road.  We had a fabulous afternoon. Each group came back not only with recorded interviews and documentary photos, but also with something from the shops: cake, fabric, Indian sweets, fish and chips, fried plantain, fried dumpling, drinks, scissors, foreign newspapers, computer cases! Most of these things had been given to the children.  The verdict afterwards was: “Whitmore Reans shop keepers are  very friendly and very generous.”

outside Q Inn Chippy


inside West End Stylists


inside Shere Punjab


outside Pak Continental

Having stuffed ourselves, we then shared stories and started working on our first possible scenes.  

But the children realised that there were still stories we haven’t heard: those from the other side of the counter, from the customers, the people who live and shop in the community.

So the next thing is tea and cake with local shoppers, whom the children will welcome into the school.  Aprons on then, Class 5!  Thankfully there are plenty of keen bakers in the class. It promises to be a wonderful exchange of delicious cakes and fabulous stories.

Lisa Harrison, Education and Outreach Co-ordinator

The power of Class 5’s personal stories

November 4, 2009
speaking and listening

speaking and listening

Class 5 are brilliant listeners! 

“No! We want to carry on listening to each other!” they insisted, when after a considerable time of sitting in a circle, I suggested that we got on our feet and did some moving around. 

The class had been interviewing each other in pairs. They were so fascinated to hear each other recounting the discoveries they’d made about their partner, they couldn’t bear not to hear everyone’s story.

What makes a good interview? We began to identify some of the essential ingredients. Curiosity. We discovered we need to have questions we are genuinely interested in asking.  Next, we need the skill of asking the questions in such a way that it draws out interesting stories. Some pupils, having interviewed parents, grandparents or neighbours over half term, are already becoming quite skilled in their questioning techniques. Here are some examples of what they asked each other:

What was your life like before you moved to England?

What are the 5 most interesting things you have done in your life?

What do you do at home?

What sorts of disasters have happened in your life?

What sorts of things do you do in the holidays? 

This was a great session to lead into hearing the stories of the Corner Shop production. Yes! Tomorrow we’ll be snaking our way up into town to watch the 1pm show. Suffice it to say, Class 5 is VERY excited.

Lisa Harrison, education and outreach co-ordinator

CS School and Community Project: the first meeting!

October 21, 2009

They didn’t disappoint. In fact, they were fantastic! In fact, we had a thoroughly exciting time together! 

When asked: ‘what do you want to find out in this project?’ Class 5 of West Park Primary came up with some great ideas: 

Why is one of the shops called The Samaritans?;  I want to find out more about the shops and what they sell by visiting them; I want to find out more about the fruits and vegetables sold in the shops; What does the shop next to Rayin Fast Food look like inside?;  Can we buy stuff in the shops for the project?; I want to find out more about acting;  How do you come up with ideas for making a play?; I want to find out more about the theatre company Lisa works with. 

what I want to find out is...

what I want to find out is...

One girl wanted to know how bossy my boss was, and did he mind me taking weeks off work in order to have fun with Class 5. Quite a lot to unpack there for a self-employed person being paid to have fun with Class 5, working with a non-hierarchical, women-led theatre company!  

We listened to a recording of me interviewing my now deceased grandparent. We talked about the value of hearing and preserving people’s stories. They have gone off now to interview grandparents/family members/neighbours, in order to share stories when we next meet after half term…the week they also go to see The Corner Shop Production. Well, they said they wanted to find out more about Foursight and acting and how to have ideas for plays…

It was fabulous to put faces to names. I think we’re going to have a lot of fun together!

Today I also met some Year 10 drama students from Deansfield on set. “That’s where the trainers used to be,” said one lad, more familiar with the shop in its previous life. Two days before opening  was a great time for them to see  the site…painters decorating, actors grabbing a bite to eat on a break, directors and designers grabbing the opportunity to talk together – no breaks for them! Lots to see and hear and take in, so many people busily involved in the lead up to the opening. The Year 10s are going to be helping me with the school and community project over the coming weeks. Thanks, Deansfield!

Lisa Harrison, Education and Outreach Co-ordinator

School and Community Project – last point of contact before meeting class 5 in the flesh!

October 14, 2009

Last letter before meeting West Park Primary’s Class 5 on Monday delivered this afternoon.

I say letter…It wasn’t exactly what one might expect a letter to look like…

letter on a round dowedi

letter on a round dowedi

ever tried writing on fruit?

ever tried writing on fruit?

Lisa Harrison, Education and Outreach Co-ordinator

The Suspense is Almost Killing Me!

October 13, 2009

I can’t wait to meet this class!

There’s something very exciting about communicating with a class I haven’t met yet, but who are already, through their correspondence with me, revealing delightfully something of who they are.

So, as you know, I sent them the box of goodies, they wrote to me in response and asked me loads of questions (see Oct 5th below). Last week I then wrote to them…on a brown paper bag…answering their questions as best I could, and asking them if they wanted to help me do a project about the local community.

letter on a brown paper bag

letter on a brown paper bag

Here are just a few of their responses.

“I’ve got lots more questions”; “I’m looking forward to the project because I don’t know anything about the Newhampton Road”; “I’d love to help with the project because I know the neighbourhood and it sounds interesting”; “The thing that excites me is that I might get to do some acting”; “The thing that excites me is that I might go to some of the shops and discover more that goes on around here”; “Why are you doing this with Year 5?”; “I’m really looking forward to the experiment”; “I want to do the project because I love surprises”…

a letter back

a letter back

I go into school to meet them for the first time next Monday.

Lisa Harrison, Education and Outreach Co-ordinator