Skelton Grange Environmental Centre is a partnership between the Conservation Volunteers and National Grid, with support from Leeds City Council. Run with the help of volunteers, the centre promotes an understanding of environmental issues related to children and young people of all backgrounds and abilities
Today’s blog was written by Louise, one of the centre’s volunteer officers and a recent University of York graduate, and tells how Mimika Theatre Company came to the centre, giving several performances to children and young people from across the city over two days…
“In a classroom at Skelton Grange, a strange construction was taking form.
“Mimika, a non-verbal theatre company that produces theatre for children, were putting up their tent in preparation for a series of performances for children from around Leeds. I and the other Skelton volunteers watched with fascination as Mimika’s practitioners Jenny and Bill carefully unpacked endless boxes and bags.
“Watching the construction of the tent was a performance in itself.”
“Soon the tent was constructed. Although the tent looked small from the outside, it was deceptively roomy inside – fitting up to 30 spectators quite comfortably. Everybody from the centre was intrigued by the various puppets, props and pieces of scenery that were being unpacked, but we had to wait for the next day before to see the full event.
“Mimika came to Skelton Grange and performed shows over two days, including several evening performance for members of the public. A variety of groups attended, including Hunslet St Mary’s school and Sunshine and Smiles (part of the Leeds Down Syndrome Network). I was lucky enough to squeeze in to see the first performance on Wednesday morning along with other Skelton volunteers officers and a Leeds child-minding group.
“Looking around at my fellow audience members, aged 2-3 years, I admit to feeling a little worried. How could a puppet show designed for children this young be interesting to me as a 23 year old? Maybe it wouldn’t be entertaining at all and I’d be stuck in a tent with over a dozen bored children!”
“Mimika’s meerkat puppets.”
“But I needn’t have worried; Jenny and Bill know their audience and tailor each performance to their needs. Before the show began we were introduced to some of the puppets up close, we were shown how they had been made and how they were operated. Even the shyest children were keen to stroke the snake puppet, especially when they were told it was made from an old vacuum cleaner!
“After everybody was seated the show began, Mimika told a story that was entertaining from start to finish with ingenious choreography and brilliant use of music. They used an array of animals and clever props to transport us around the world – from a desert to a rainforest, from the deep ocean to the Antarctic – without ever speaking a word.
“It felt like we’d travelled the world without ever leaving the tent.”
“From adorable meerkats to floating jellyfish there was something for everyone. Once the performance had finished the children had a chance to see their favourite puppets up close and see how some of them had been made, even getting a chance to operate them. All in all it was a fantastic performance that was thoroughly enjoyed by all the children and even grownups like me!
“We have events and courses at Skelton to get involved in all year round and I would highly recommend you come along!”
Thank you to Louise for taking the time to let us know about one of the fantastic things to go on at Skelton Grange! To find out more about the Mimika Theatre Company, who gave the performance, please visit: http://www.mimikatheatre.com
Don’t worry If you missed out on this event, Skelton have events and courses all year round to get involved in. Upcoming events at the centre include their Winter Festival on Friday 12 December with winter crafts and some green-woodwork. If you want to join in, or just to find out more about their events and courses, please visit: www.tcv.org.uk/skeltongrange.
What are your experiences of volunteering and community work in Leeds? Have you been to a fantastic child friendly event that you want us to know about? Why not let us know on Twitter @child_leeds, or by leaving a comment below…