Culture Voucher case study: Shortstown Primary and Full House Theatre

During May 2019, Culture Vouchers awarded to Shortstown Primary School enabled 91 pupils to work with Cultural Provider Full House Theatre. Their recent production, ‘Who is Bedford?’ is an interactive show which explores the heritage of Bedford and the people who live in the town.  

Full House Theatre explain, ‘Who is Bedford?’ is a celebration of everything that makes Bedford the vibrant town it is today. Combining interactive audio technology with artefacts from The Higgins Museum, the show provides opportunities for learning across the curriculum from drama, to history, citizenship and PSHE.’

Teacher Hannah Pereira chose to bring Full House Theatre back into the school to perform ‘Who is Bedford?’ because ‘Year 6 at Shortstown Primary were part of the original workshop that helped to build this performance. The children had the opportunity to work with Full House, bringing in items which had a story from their family. We felt it was a lovely opportunity for the children to see the final touring performance.’  

Pupils from both years 5 & 6 were treated to this unique performance, bringing audience numbers to 91, 33 of which were in receipt of Pupil Premium. In her initial application to The Culture Challenge, Hannah indicated that she hoped an award of Culture Vouchers would allow her students to benefit from exposure to cultural opportunities, expose the children to a different, interactive style of theatre and develop the inclusion of music and drama in the curriculum. Hannah was quick to reflect on these aims and exclaim that ‘none of the children had experience a performance like this before. There was a lot of discussion about what a ‘theatre performance’ was – did it mean you had to be sat down in your seat? No!’

Who is Bedford poster from Full House Theatre

It was obvious that the group enjoyed the interactive nature of the performance and the fact that they were listening to different things through headphones as part of the unconventional performance. ‘They were also fascinated by the fact that the actors didn’t speak at all during the performance’, explained Hannah, who was impressed to see that all children were fully engaged, ‘including children who find interaction with others (particularly strangers) very difficult.’  

Hannah was pleasantly surprised during the performance, ‘when one of the children in my class was picked out, I was particularly wary as he does not cope well emotionally, however as it was part of the performance he was more than happy to participate.’ She was also impressed by how effective non-verbal cues were with the children. ‘They all completed everything with no behaviour issues and without being spoken to.’ In addition, Hannah was impressed by how much information the children learnt during the day and were able to relay after the performance.  

In this instance, Culture Vouchers were provided to Shortstown Primary for their teacher participation in the SLiCE Cultural Education Professional Support Group. The group invites teachers across Bedford Borough to join them for peer to peer professional development to support them out their Artsmark journey and to nurture links with the cultural sector, encouraging cultural engagement for their school. Culture Vouchers can be exchanged for the delivery of any of our Cultural Providers listed on The Culture Challenge Directory.