The Belgrade Theatre’s Theatre in Education (TiE) production, Promise, has just completed its annual tour of Coventry primary schools to help Year Six students deal with any issues regarding the transition to secondary school.
Written by Chris Cooper and delivered in partnership with the Belgrade Community & Education Company and the local authority, Promise has been touring local schools since 1999. The story follows a young girl called Grace as she prepares to take the big step up to attend secondary school. The main premise of the play is the notion of change and how it can create uncertainty and anxiety as well as excitement and anticipation.
Justine Themen, Associate Director of the Belgrade’s Community & Education Company said, “What is powerful about Promise is that it puts children in the driving seat. Work on transition is often about telling children what they need to expect when they make the step up to secondary school. This play encourages young people to recognise that they are coping with change all the time, and so already have the resources themselves to manage this particular change. We often underestimate children – we feel we have to instruct them. Actually, they often already have the knowledge – we need to provide them with the support to discover it.”
For the first time ever, Promise was performed at a number of secondary schools this year including Cardinal Newman and Ernesford Grange, to enable primary school children to watch the play in a secondary school environment. Another first this year, Promise was performed on the Belgrade’s Main Stage on 6 June to enable parents to watch the production with their children.
The characters in Promise were played by professional actors, including Jim Low who took on the role of the father. Jim has appeared in a number of productions for the Belgrade Theatre including The Night Before Christmas in 2008 and this year he performed Promise in front of his own son, who is making the move to secondary school this year.
The ground-breaking TiE movement was pioneered by the Belgrade Theatre in 1965 as a way to use theatre and drama to create a range of learning opportunities for young people. Actors from the Belgrade would tour local schools where they would perform short pieces of theatre and lead workshops that allowed students to explore important issues and ideas in active and creative ways.