Last Thursday and Friday, Wakefield Museum hosted a “Play In a Day” project, in partnership with Yew Tree Arts.
Children from Newton Hill and Stanley St Peters primaries came to Wakefield One, where they developed, rehearsed and performed plays based on what inspired them in the new museum.
The children were extremely excited to see the new museum, and also the new library - with many of them expressing real eagerness to bring their families and to the museum and to borrow books from the library. Each child worked incredibly hard, with only a few hours to turn their ideas into performances for the public!
The children explored the stories of some of Wakefield’s past inhabitants, including Irish immigrant Ann Dixon, conservationist and explorer Charles Waterton, innovator and collector Frank Green, businesswoman and executive Jean Tyrrell and feminist campaigner Sheila Capstick. Some of the children narrated these characters’ stories, accompanied by dramatic reenactments of key moments of their lives.
The focus then turned to some of the other themes of the Museum exhibition: the Arts, Justice, Love and War. These themes really gave the children an opportunity to show off their dramatic talents – with ballerinas, jail breaks, weddings and beheadings!
After all of their very hard work in development and rehearsal, the time at last came for them to perform their work to the public! They performed in the lower atrium, while an audience of their family members (and some curious members of Wakefield One staff!) gathered on the stairs and in the upper atrium to watch. The groups all performed brilliantly - singing, acting and dancing with gusto!
There were lots of very supportive and encouraging comments from members of Wakefield One staff, who clearly enjoyed seeing the space being used so creatively. The children were also wonderful ambassadors for young people, showing that lots of young people are still very excited about history, museums and performance.
This was a fantastic opportunity to make the most of the new Museum, the new building and our links with Yew Tree - and we look forward to many more exciting and innovative projects in the future!