The First Time I Saw Snow
Written by Marielle van Sauers, with Justine Themen and the Company. Directed by Justine Themen.
The Belgrade Community & Education Company presented the brand new play The First Time I Saw Snow in Primary & Secondary Schools across the North of the city January – February 2008, and then again in B2 as part of the first In Our Own Words Festival from 2 to 5 April 2008.
Based on the experience of Coventry school pupils, The First Time I Saw Snow is a magical play for 7 – 13 year olds which explores the experience of newly arrived pupils from different parts of the world, and the change of dynamic that this can bring to existing communities.
The play follows the story of Ashley, a carer for her mother, who has lived in Wood End all her life. Longing to be a painter, her only canvas is the wall of a boarded up, condemned house. However, the arrival of Webster from Zimbabwe and Agneska from Poland means that Ashley has to learn to share her Wood End with others – with unexpected consequences.
Commenting on the play, one teacher from Moathouse Primary School said, “The children were transfixed by the performance and the messages that were being given.”
The First Time I Saw Snow was a groundbreaking production in several ways. Not only was it a humorous and effective way of confronting diversity issues within schools, it was accessible to all as it combined storytelling with and without words and used live music to engage young people in the performance. Its interaction involved young people in the challenges facing the characters to encourage awareness and understanding through its combination of playfulness with handling of serious issues.
Writer – Marielle van Sauers
Director / Concept Development – Justine Themen
Dramaturg – Ola Animashawun
Actor (Webster) – Daniel Anderson
Actor (Agneska) – Magdalena Kaleta
Actor (Ashley) – Hannah McPake
Musician – Si Hayden
The production toured to the following schools in Coventry:
Woodway Park School and Community College – 28 January (9.30am and 1.30pm)
Lyng Hall School – 29 January (9.30am and 1.30pm)
Cardinal Wiseman RC Comprehensive School – 30 January (09.30am and 1.45pm)
Cardinal Wiseman RC Comprehensive School – 1 February (9.30am and 1.45pm)
Polish Saturday School – 2 February (11.30am)
St Patrick’s Catholic Primary School – 4 February (1pm)
Cardinal Wiseman RC Comprehensive School – 5 February (9:30am and 1;45pm)
Moat House Community Primary School – 6 February (9.30am and 1.30pm)
Henley Green Primary School – 7 February (9.30am and 1.45pm)
Ash Green School – 8 February (10.15am)