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Big School - Becoming Me

Written by Marielle van Sauers with Justine Themen and the Company. Directed by Justine Themen.

The Belgrade’s Theatre in Education project, Big School toured local primary schools with the brand new show Becoming Me from 12 June to 6 July 2012.

Aiming to help Year Six pupils deal with the transition from primary to secondary school, the Big School project has been touring local primary schools in Coventry since 1999. In 2012 pupils from 46 local primary schools saw the new production Becoming Me, which was written by Marielle van Sauers. It was followed by an interactive workshop in which the pupils had the opportunity to work with the actors and address any questions or fears they might have about moving school.

Following the success of 2011’s collaboration with secondary schools, the production also visited five secondary schools, including Cardinal Newman and Ernesford Grange, which enabled some youngsters to see the production in the secondary school they were due to attend in September 2012.

Becoming Me tells the story of a group of three friends who are just about to leave the comfort and familiarity of their primary school. It begins on their last day of primary and follows them through the long summer holiday to the first day of secondary school. Along the way the characters deal with a number of changes and challenges and they address issues such as how to deal with finding your way around a new, big school, making friends and dealing with lots of homework.

Justine Themen, Associate Director of the Belgrade’s Community & Education Company, said:

“What is powerful about Becoming Me 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 and we feel we have to instruct them. Actually, they often already have the knowledge so we just need to provide them with the support to discover it.”

The characters in Becoming Me were played by professional actors Shereena Glean, Kim Hackleman and local actor Jon Morris, who first began acting as a member of the Belgrade Youth Theatre. Jon explains more about the play in this podcast.

The groundbreaking TiE movement was pioneered by the Belgrade 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. In 2015 the Belgrade will celebrate the 50th anniversary of TiE.

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