Kiveton Park Meadows Junior is a Creative Partnerships school in Rotherham committed to creative curriculum development and delivery across the whole school. They are working on a cross-artform project with Opera North and Phoenix Dance, a writer, a visual artist and a film maker.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Final Jabberblog - Pauline Mayers, Phoenix Dance Theatre

Run up to Jabberfest week

15th March

Rachel’s group

Following on from the great work that was done in February, Caroline and I began to shape how this section would be shared. The poem/song had been completed and it was decided that Caroline would take part in this section, in the role of Narrator. It is now a case of inserting Caroline into this section and for the group to learn the poem and song which had been written by the group (which was very catchy I must say!)

Because of the work that had been done to this point, it was a case of putting all the elements of this section together. Caroline and the group had the overview so I was there much more in a supportive role.

Jennifer’s group

I was absolutely amazed by what this group had achieved in the three weeks since I last was with them. Matt, Charlotte and Kate had been with them in the interim period and had incorporated Matt in section as Lewis Carroll searching for the Jabberwocky. This was to be the theme for the entire sharing. It was simply a case of doing a couple of run throughs as I had very little to do! It was like working with a group of young professionals! Amazing.

16th March

Unfortunately due to prior commitments I was unable to have Judith’s group all day. Judith had concerns about the Jabberwocky which has now been finished by the Terry and the class, however the legs weren’t as stable as was first envisioned. It was left that I would liaise with Terry on the matter. In the meantime we set to work on shaping the events prior to the unveiling of the Jabberwocky by the group. This would be based on the music created by the group, which is to be their soundtrack.

The section will start with the introduction of the Jabberwocky’s organs in this order:

Snorkelpump (Heart) with music by Laura, Claudia, Bryony, Kelsy, Melanie and Georga

Backstacker (Spine) with music by Sam, Sammy, Melissa

Think Tank (Brian) with music by James, Adam B, Ryan, Harry, Emma and Holly

Oxypump (Lungs) with music by Adam, Lewis, Luke Jason and Thomas

Flame Inflator (Fire throwing organ) with music by Jack, Adam H, Josh, Liam and Anthony

Each group was given the following tasks in order to create the movement. This is to be completed by my next session with them.

The Snorkelpumpers had the task of working as one (using the beat of the music) to physically create the shape of the Jabberwocky’s heart. The movement was to be as long as the soundtrack.

The Backstackers were to create their movement by using canon (same movement one after the other) to create the idea of a spine through “building” their movement. The parameters set were that they could build the movement on either a low level on the mid level.

The Think Tank was to base their movement on the idea that the brain works by using electrical impulses to various parts of the body. They are to move within a circle and use canon as a basis.

The Oxypump through using the idea of breathing (inflation/deflation) have to work as a one unit.

The Flame Inflators, using fire as an influence (the idea that the movement should be sparky, engulfing and sharp like fire) had to move almost like an amoeba across the space.

Jabberfest Week

20th March 9am – 10.30

Sally’s Group

This session I had Matt with me. Because we were unable to use the tables in the Dining Hall due to Health and Safety it was decided that the animals would use the Jabberwocky pieces instead. Because the scene was near completion all that was done was to finish off the scene. Matt as Lewis Carroll encounters the Animals as follows:

Lewis Carroll meets the Animals (To Animal soundtrack and Cello played by Matt in Dining Hall)

Starting with the Animal Noises, a group at a time.

1. James & George – Sh Sh 2. Laura & Nicole – Swsh Swsh
3. William & Jack – Suck click 4. Lauren Molly & Caitlin – A-whoo
5. Matthew P & Nathanal – cars 6. Thomas & Taryn – ddd chch
7. Allan & Jack – Ring ring ding ding 8. Mackenna & Matthew B - ring ring
9. Daniel & Rachel – a-whoo 10. Aimee, Shannon & Victoria Musha
11. Hannah & Tanya – Shh 12. Chloe & Abbie - Shhh
13. Matthew & Naomi - A-whoo

All Animal Noises at the same time from soft to loud. End abruptly.

Repeat the above with the Animal moves with the same structure
When everyone moves around, all groups get in to their “what do you see…?” groups.

Cello and soundtrack stop.

In these groups the Animal noises continues until Lewis Carroll walks into the space. The scene starts with a yelp from one of the animals. This stops Lewis Carroll (L.C.). Noticing the Animals on the ground he steps in to have a closer look.

1. What do you SEE – on see jump towards L.C. on see (L.C. jumps back. and walks to next group)
2. When you look at me (L.C. is chased by one of the Animals to the next group)
3. Creep up – the group “sniff” Matt
4. Close – wolf howl sends L.C.
5. Listen – one animal points at L.C. Whole group – To My (the group pull him in towards them) Name – emphasis on Name


"What do you see when you look at me,
Creep up close and listen to my,
Name (on “Name” all the Animals rise up to their knees looking directly L.C.)
What do you see when you look at me!"

The group creep and crawl towards L.C. Introduction of the “Dictionary of the Animals” book to L.C.

L.C. runs through the list of Animals before the Tarantatoad stops him mid – sentence and gives L.C. the Riddle.

(Animals repeat each line after L.C.)

“Beware of the twisting, turning paths,
That will lead you to no good,
The jabberwocky will be lurking,
Deep in the Tulgey Wood”

On the word “Deep” all the Animals lurch towards L.C.
On the word “Wood” all the Animals point towards the Hall then retreat to the back of the Dining Hall, whilst the Tarantatoad hops towards the Hall. L.C. follows.


The group worked extremely well and fast with Matt, it was a real pleasure to work with the group!

10.45 – 12pm

Judith’s Group
We continued with the work started last week. Each organ (group) had to come in to the Hall one at a time (entering from their classroom exit) and perform their section (exit the space via the Dining Hall). An extra session has been added to the schedule for the week (Tuesday)
We decided that the legs of the Jabberwocky would be dispensed with.

1pm – 2pm

Jabber Ballad - Rachel’s Group
Caroline, Kate, Will (the trombonist) and I were all hands on deck in putting the scene together. My role was again supportive.

2pm – 3pm

Tulgey Wood – Jennifer’s Group
The group worked so well! They were a little confused by the term “snail” in the section and where it came from. Caroline in my absence explained that it was the seeds growing into trees so the term “seeds” was to be used instead. (I was very pleased with this). Lewis Carroll enters the Tulgey Wood as follows:
The Tulgey Wood ( To Tulgey Wood soundtrack and Cello played by Matt in Hall)
Group One – Fog starts as soon as the drumming sounds
Group Two – Fog starts when the cello “miaows”

Once finished everyone continues with their Fog movements to get into their “seeds” position

Then “seeds” movement



Jumping over logs and leaves – From a small shape on the floor, jump up and stamp
feet starting with the right three times
Toffee wrappers blowing – Swirl arms in the air, movement from high to low
Thorns cracking – High to low shape or vice versa with stabbing on Thorns Cracking
Blossoms swaving – wave the hands above the air
Ivy tendrils curling – splayed hands wrap around the body in a low shape to repeat all
The above

(L.C. repeats the song after each line)

Smoke drifting – Waving arms in the air x2
Spider webs clinging – circle arms behind and stop in front of the face splayed hands
Shining in the moonlight - circle arms above the head full circle to floor (small shape)
Owls hooting – Right hand to mouth on Owls, on Hooting open hands very sharply
To pull away from mouth to high shape
Tweaking a - circle arm behind full circle to front
Warning – STOP
In the darkness - splayed hands in front of face and pull away from each other
Darkness - splayed hands in front of face and pull away from each other

Repeat the verse (everyone)

Into Trees section

L.C. to orchestrate.

Everyone stops moving on “flop”. Start moving again on “Bubble” to get into one big group, on the right side of the space. On the next sound, the group move towards L.C. and engulf him. Once the soundtrack finishes, the group as one say the following:

“Beware, The Jabberwock approaches!”

Then retreat into two lines, sat down on the floor, facing each other. As the lead tree passes in-between the two lines, the lines separate in front. When L.C. passes, the lines close very quickly as the words “Turn back! Keep going” are repeated. On the sixth time L.C. shouts “Trees make up your minds!” The group finishes on the words “Keep going!”

The lead tree says the words, “The Jabberwock is waiting”

L.C. leaves the hall


21st March 9am – 10.30am

The main focus of today was to make good use of Matt’s and Will’s times as Matt will not be present during tomorrow’s Dress Rehearsal.

Just finishing of this section and going through it several times!

10.45am – 12pm

Tulgey wood
The same!

1pm – 2pm

Jabber Ballad
Consolidation of the section

2pm – 3pm

Judith’s Group – The Jabberwocky
This is the extra session with the group! We put just about everything together (the JW will be added tomorrow) so the finale is as follows:

The introduction of the Jabberwocky’s organs (in this order):

Snorkelpump (Heart)
Backstacker (Spine)
Think Tank (Brian)
Oxypump (Lungs)
Flame Inflator (Fire organ)

N.B. All exit through the doors to the Dining Hall (to pick up the JW parts)

22nd March

9am – 10.30am

Judith’s group
Finally we have put the Jabberwocky together! We’ve added to the section prior so the whole thing is as follows:

The Jabberwocky appears – (To Organs and Jabberwocky soundtrack with will playing Trombone in the Hall)

The introduction of the Organs as is then when Will’s Trombone sounds, enter running:

The Thorax
The Tail
The Abdomen
The Neck

Everyone else to run into the Hall and get underneath (Group A under the Neck and thorax, Group B under the Abdomen and tail) the Jabberwocky and then shuffle into position with a space in-between Group A and B

Enter the Head of the Jabberwocky (held by two people from The Jabber Ballad Group)

The five Guardians of the Jabberwocky enter and take the jabberwocky’s head

The Trombone sounds twice then both groups start the “inside the Jabberwocky” movement

On sharp blast of the Trombone, the Head of the Jabberwocky races up to L.C. as the rest of the body parts join up behind (all those not holding the Jabberwocky run to the sides of the Hall and stay in position)

L.C. starts to stroke the jabberwocky (head rears up)

L.C. starts to run away (The Jabberwocky encircles L.C. with the Head finishing by the side of L.C.)

The Head lays low (when L.C. asks The Jabberwocky to sing, the Head rears up and accommodates)

Into Song (Everyone)


10.45 – 12pm

Philip’s Group – The Rubbish Puppets

Caroline asked if I could help this group in some way with the movement of the Rubbish Puppets (there are five in total). All that happens in this group is as follows:

The soldiers enter

Followed by the Rubbish puppets (file in one by one)


We have the Dress Rehearsal this afternoon. I am very confident of the success of the sharing!

Monday, February 13, 2006


On the 9th January I took over the project! Starting with the planning meeting, everyone made me feel extremely comfortable and welcome! First task was to build on the great work that had already been done. My role in this was to work with Sally, Rachel and Jennifer and their groups to create the Tulgey Wood in which the Jabberwocky lives. This would include what the environment looks like and the different types wildlife that could exist in its domain. This meant that each group would take a look in depth at a particular part of this world. Working very closely with both Caroline and Kate the piece the school are due to show in March started to make progress. During the January (16 – 20) residency week we started with:

Sally’s group

With help from Caroline, the group had already come up with names for the various animals that might inhabit the Tulgey Wood so it was decided they would actually BE the animals that lived there. They had to come up with the ways in which their chosen animals moved (helped in some instances by the names of the animals i.e. Jiggle - Wiggler) and the sounds they would make. Kate recorded these sounds and this helped to inform me as to the structure of the piece. The animals included in this section were…

Tarantatoads Twistflippers
Jigglewigglers Crocodogs
Hippocrocahorses Runrippers
Butterbeats Spinstoppers
Firegods Lepotars
Taratasnakes Waterscribblers

Together with the group, we were able to incorporate the “What do you see….” poems that they had written with Caroline. The group worked extremely well and very intensely over a very long period of time for their age. So much so, I had forgotten to give the group a break!

Rachel’s group

The written work this group produced with Caroline became five scenes that looked at key moments in the Jabberwocky’s life and included its relationship with the Green Knight. Starting with the birth of these two beings (both born on the same day, at the same time and in the same moment, in the same hospital!) the scenes showed how the Jabberwocky came to be. This formed the basis of the movement. The group were already split into five groups to work on the written scenes, so it made absolute sense to keep them in these groups to work on the movement for each scene. The scenes were set up as follows:

BIRTH – The birth of the Jabberwocky and the Green Knight (the Jabberwocky is born as a normal looking being)
FOODFIGHT – When the Jabberwocky and the Green Knight become partners’ -in-crime
RACE – The Jabberwocky cheats in order to win
EXPLOSION – During an experiment in a chemistry class, an explosion occurs which covers the teenage Jabberwocky in an unknown substance …… this turns the Jabberwocky into the Monster.
LOST CHILD – The Monster Jabberwocky is blamed for a taking a child that goes missing during a fair.

Because the group have really taken ownership of this section the pupils came up with an idea to connect all the scenes. Caroline and myself had already come up with the idea of the group working as a chorus in a semi circle which would “frame” the picture of each scene as it occurs, in the middle of the space hence the name of this section, the “Gallery”. The idea the group came up with (in keeping with the framing of each scene) is that the chorus in the semi circle would echo movement that happened within each scene. This wonderful suggestion helped to take this section to near completion!

Jennifer’s group

This group looked at the environment of the Tulgey wood. The group had already completed a song and a sound score about the wood that had been recorded by Kate. Prior to the residency, Jennifer and the class had started to create movement based on the plants that would inhabit the wood. For me, because the section was already taking shape it was simply a case of building on the fabulous work done!
Starting with the fog rolling in, the plants and trees would start to grow out of the fog. This would lead to the group moving and singing as one, leading to it’s climax. It was decided that the Tulgey wood has a “voice”, which is friendly to start with, but as the section continued, this “voice” would become sinister, in effect warning anyone who trespasses to keep away.

During this week we were extremely fortunate to have Matt Sharp join us. Matt is an opera singer (tenor) and cellist brought in by Opera North. Working in conjunction with Kate and myself, we incorporated Matt into the sections created by Sally and Jennifer’s groups. This meant that the pupils were able to work up close and personal with an opera singer, which excited everyone concerned. Having never myself worked with an opera singer in this way it has given me a challenge in itself!

By the end of this week the structure of the sharing had been completed by Caroline and myself working closely with Kevin and Judith. It was decided that it would take the shape of a “promenade sharing”. This means that as well as the invited audience being taken on a journey into the world of the Jabberwocky, they would be literally be taken around the school, with various areas of the school dealing with specific aspects of the Jabberwocky’s life. The climax of which would take place in the wooded area behind the school. There would also be a “Jabberfest Day” which would be an open day whereby the parents and friends of the school would be invited to take a look at the research done by the pupils and teachers into the Jabberwocky and how this process informed the sharing created.

During the following two days in early February at the school I was able to consolidate the work that was done in January, ready for when Caroline and Kate were next due to work with these groups. The next few weeks that all the artists are next in is being worked out at the moment, however it looks like the form of the Jabberwocky is due to be completed by Judith’s group (with Terry’s help) by the end of February. Hopefully my next time at the school will be used to concentrate on the Jabberwocky itself. All in all this has left me feeling extremely enthused and anxiously awaiting the next and final residency.

Friday, January 27, 2006

January update - posted by Terry

January review – posted by Terry

After the glories of the first week were demolished, by an unwelcome visitor to the trail, I had to take stock and review the overall plan and timescale. Fortunately the wonderful sculptures and habitats created by the pupils were recorded, albeit on a very dull day which didn’t show them at their best. They had already been discussed with the pupils as ephemeral art but I had hoped for a more graceful decay!

It was clear that the site was not going to be secure enough for a trail with a permanent and growing sculpture collection as initially thought. The emphasis then became the JabberFest with pieces being created towards some form of end performance/event. The work on the trail itself (carefully planned and mapped by Class 4) was put on hold until later where a narrower time frame may increase its chance of survival.

Class 7 (Yr 3) built on their work with minibeast habitats and memories of the Forbidden Corner to create a splendid collection of plaited paper snakes to place in the trees. They quickly mastered the basic techniques, showed excellent teamwork and collaboration, and then their imaginations kicked in. Soon the “snakes” were sprouting legs, wings, multiple heads and the groups were joining them together to create veritable pythons!
In the most recent sessions they have gone on to make card masks of creatures invented in their work with Caroline and Pheonix. Again they worked very successfully in pairs, sharing and building on ideas and showing very good independence and resourcefulness for their age. The hippocrocopigs are particularly ferocious. At the end of the sessions they all wore their masks as we had a performance of the song they had written about the animals – complete with dance movements.

Class 6 (Yr3-4) had previously developed ideas about the plants and trees of the Tulgey Wood so we went to explore the woodland and collect samples of colours, shapes, patterns and textures for drawings and collages. In the next session we made a start on some capes that could wrap around to hide a person, camouflaged by leaves and twigs, before opening with a flourish to become a moving, dancing plant/creature. We began this with quite large groups (5 or 6) to get used to the difference between painting on cloth and painting on paper. Emphasis on dull natural colours gave good opportunities for experimentation and colour mixing. Naming and describing the colours was harder than mixing them. Planning to use tie-dye as an alternative base for other capes to suit a different set of characteristics for their plants. This should be a quicker process too as Pauline wants dozens (2) for the dance! I’ll be coming in for an extra day to make headway on this.

Class 4 (Yr4-5) took my original outline for the trail and extended it in all directions. They explored the wood, seeking out and naming recognisable landmarks such as the Treasure Tree, the Slingshot, the YI tree and the Giants Chair. They worked in teams throughout the wood to lay out sections of pathways using the steaming heaps of wood chippings that the workmen had left for us. This was drawing on an art attack scale! Unfortunately we couldn’t get the final helicopter view so translating it into a 2D map was quite a challenge. The quality of teamwork, discussion and negotiation that all this generated was impressive. In the January residency we built on their sense of place by focussing on the Wabe and in particular on the creatures that may be found there. We went down to the wood-entrance to look at the 9 posts I had erected to surround and define the Wabe. Their task was to create 3D creatures, to perch on top of the poles as guardians of the Wabe, using an assortment of scrap materials to then be covered in a shell of ModRoc. Again the quality of discussion, co-operation and invention was impressive as they successfully sustained their efforts for the full day and produced some wonderful creatures. Some are more complete than others and all will benefit from a layer of detail to bring out their characters but it’s an excellent start to bringing the Wabe to life.

Class 1 (Yr 5-6) used their first session in November to make some very good rubbish-people. They used a very simple structure to make the figures from waste materials such as plastic bags and cartons with the intention that a crowd of these could quickly and easily be made to populate a part of the woodland. Mr Barber was particularly interested in developing character through modelling the heads, giving the originally faceless crowd a range of identities. This triggered an idea for Caroline and stories began to appear about the origins of this strange race that was infiltrating the wood. Since the Rubbish People now making a more active presence the next stage for Class 1 was to create a new range of large, mobile puppets. We used the newly arrived bamboo poles and some lengths of pipe insulation to make a basic frame for figures that are over 3 metres high and span 4.5 metres before they have hands! Although they will be mostly similar to the first figures, some of these are beginning to appropriate human costume in the form of shirt-fronts and ties. Hoods, capes and cloaks have also been suggested. Almost half the class were missing through illness for this session but those who were there are confident they can help the others catch up. Mr Barber is again keen to work on the heads at a much larger scale and may even put a glint in their eyes with some cunning LEDs. It will probably take 3 pupils to manage each of these large puppets so characterisation and choreography will become very important – over to Caroline and Pauline! Again I will need to put in some extra time to hurry these through to give C & P time to work with them.

Class 3 (Yr 6) were responsible for most of the wonderful but ill-fated creatures made in the first residency. It is fitting then that they are now working to visualise and make real the Jabberwock himself. This amazing creature is evolving through every session. The sketchy glimpses in the original poem, character development with Caroline, anatomical studies and its need to act as a screen while moving in 4 directions at once have led to some challenging design decisions. The design shifted and changed through many drawings, diagrams and descriptions but the excitement, when the first pieces of framework showed the outline and size of the creature, was tangible. It spread across the classroom as a simple line of hoops but everyone there could suddenly see the beast in their mind’s eye. Lightweight materials (withies and lycra) have been used to make the creature as mobile as possible. The head, neck, tail and two-part body are built separately so that it can disperse and re-assemble at will – though this has led to the need for two extra pairs of legs! The head has yet to be made and due to its complexity I will build the basic framework for the pupils to elaborate and ornament. I am very keen to make the creature structurally sound as soon as possible so that I can hand over the complex job of choreographing the movements of at least 10 pupils to Pauline. More extra time needed!

To get the various projects up to hand-over state I will be in on the 2nd and 3rd of Feb with possible time on the 2 following Thursdays 9th and 16th.

The woodland trail has not been forgotten and we’ve recently had a delivery of withies and bamboo poles that will form screens and archways to suggest the trail. This is not with the original intent of producing a sculpture trail to follow but rather to give form and focus to the woodland and create an environment that pupils can populate with structures, ideas, stories and journeys. I have made a start on the area near to the entrance and will soon be involving the pupils in naming, mapping and developing the various areas.

Looking back over the first stages of this project I’m pleased to find that my personal targets are being fulfilled. I came into the project with a complete plan of action as a safety net to ensure that something would be produced. I hoped that somewhere along the way a spark of magic might happen between the art forms to set off new ideas and directions. I didn’t have to wait beyond the first meeting for the sparks to fly and they simply haven’t stopped. I wanted to experience working alongside other art forms over an extended period to see how they would interact and it has been fascinating to watch ideas bounce around before resolving into a practical and creative form.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Update from Caroline

Posted by Caroline Small : 26th January 2006

December 2005

Lorraine and I spent a day in December working with Judith's group on pre-production for the documentary.

Since we last worked with them the group had written some wonderful scripts based on interviews with Fred's friends and family. Unfortunately there won't now be time to include them all in the film as we've realised that the planned film would probably take about 6 months to complete and we only have four days in which to shoot everything!

As Lorraine has explained in her posting, we decided to concentrate on the second 'act' of the documentary, the 'wildlife programme' as this would be manageable in the time. We are still thinking of ways in which the other ideas and material can be used, for example live performance of the interviews.

Lorraine showed the class how films are storyboarded and explained the technical terms for different shots. Then we created five mini-production teams to take responsibility for different segments of the film. These teams first had to visualise and make notes on what would happen in their segment, then they created the storyboard for their section.

From these storyboards Lorraine put together a shots list and shooting schedule for January.

I created a Pre-production Planning form to help them organise everything they would need to do before filming starts in January, including the finding and making of props and location recces.

This was a brilliant day with the children really rising to the challenge of work which was similar in level to GCSE Media Studies. The great thing is they believe they can do it and so they do!

January Residency Week : 16th to 20th January 2006

My role in the project has changed slightly. At the moment I have the clearest 'overview' of all the work that's taken place so I'm taking on part of the responsibility of drawing everything together and helping to co-ordinate the final Jabberfest Week in March.

I also supported Lorraine for one day this week, helping the documentary production teams to create studio sets in the Library to represent a science lab and a museum. Great fun - particularly when we raided Room 2 and found the teeth the typewriter and the seed broadcaster!

1. Jabberfest Planning

A major aim of the Jabberfest is to celebrate and share as much of the project as possible with parents and other guests. The Jabberfest needs to reflect the range and diversity of the project and, to some extent, reveal the process as well as offering an end product.

One of our major challenges will be accommodating the large number of people who will want to come and see what we’ve been doing. Linked to this are issues around the space required by some of the performance elements.

The plan so far for that week is as follows:

Monday 20th - Wednesday 22nd

Rehearsal of performance elements
Mounting the exhibition
Setting up the trail in the woods
Transforming the performance spaces in school

Thursday 23rd

Afternoon: Promenade-style performance in which the whole school becomes our theatre/gallery/museum through which the audience travels in groups of about 25.

The audience will experience:

  • The Creatures and Plants of the Tulgey Wood: Dance and Music/Vocal performance (using live and recorded sound) by Sally's and Jennifer's classes with Matt in Dining Room and Hall.
  • The Jabber Exhibition curated and presented by Philip's class in their classroom, including the animation and pixilation films.
  • The Jabber 'Incident' Room presented by Judith's class in their classroom, including the documentary film.
  • The Tragic History of Jabberwocky and the Green Knight performed by Rachael's class in their classroom.
  • The Giant Jabberwocky - all the sections of the creature made by Judith's class come together in the Hall. The animation film will be projected on to the Jabberwocky as part of the performance.
  • Procession to the Woods to experience the trail
  • Invasion of the Rubbish Puppets - somewhere along the trail.

(Well - that's the plan. We have a huge amount of work to do to pull it off!)

Evening: A fairly informal presentation to a seated audience in the Hall, possibly with opportunities to see other exhibited work.

Friday 24th

A 'drop-in' Open Day with some of the performance elements included, where and when possible.

2. The Jabber Ballad

A major focus for me this week has been working on the ballad narration for Rachael's class, and also working with Pauline and Kate to bring elements of their performance together.

Since the previous residency the children have written newspaper articles based on the ideas they storyboarded for the ballad. Words, phrases and ideas from these articles are incorporated in the balled. (For example the headline 'Twins But Not Brothers' inspired the Chorus.)

The ballad isn't yet complete but here's a small taster (it's the very beginning). It uses the rhythm of the original Jabberwocky poem:

Twas winter and the hospital
Stood silent in the frosty air;
All quiet were the corridors
And peace reigned everywhere.

Then suddenly the air was torn
By a groan and a slap and a scream and a yell;
Two babies, pink and round, were born,
Their story we are here to tell.

The babies’ names - you’ll think them strange -
Were Jabberwock and bold Green Knight;
Their mothers smiled, their fathers beamed
And everything seemed good and right.


They were twins but never brothers;
Linked by a bond no one understands.

Born in the very same second
Of the very same minute
Of the very same hour
Of the very same day –

They were twins but never brothers;
Joined in friendship; joined in hate.
Their fate only time will tell.

This is developing into a very exciting, ambitious performance piece bringing together dance, drama, words and music. I'm looking forward to performing with the children in this.

3. The Rubbish Puppets

I'd planned to work with Philip's class on animating their puppets but laryngitis got the better of me so this has been postponed. In the end it's worked out for the best as the puppets are now huge creatures - (I was due to work with them in the classroom: we would have needed to raise the ceiling!) - and, as Terry was still waiting for a delivery of withies, the puppets weren't really ready to be animated. Kate, however, did a fantastic job helping the class to develop characters for the puppets and writing a chant. The animation session will be re-scheduled in February.

Jabberwocky Documentary posted by Lorraine

Mrs Elstone’s class
Jabberwocky Documentary (mockumentary)

13th December

After all Caroline’s work with the class on devising ideas for their jabberwocky documentary, it was time for us both to look realistically at what could be achieved within the constraints of the schedule. Although we wanted to continue to be ambitious, it was important that we allowed enough time for groups to be able to have a rewarding and enjoyable experience and to be really hands-on in the production of their films, not to have to rush the fun part!

With this in mind we looked at the planned sections of the film and decided that for now we would concentrate on producing the wildlife documentary part (act 2). This had lots of scope for creativity and experimentation and for the whole class being involved in production. Also this part could stand alone as a film if we do not have time to make the other parts.

Caroline and I spent a day with the group looking at storyboarding techniques, using them to communicate how the film will look and showing key scenes and the order of the sequence. They also began including information about framing, shots, camera and character movement.

The class worked as five production teams, each responsible for a different of the film.

Amazing Jabberwocky Team – Jabberwocky Droppings
Tulgey Experts – The Tulgey Woods
Illegal Eagles – Creatures of the Wabe
CSI Jabberwocky – Jabberwocky Evidence
G+P+R+J+A – The Jabberwocky Egg

They also began to plan what props and costumes they would need for their film, what would have to be found, what they would have to make and how they would make it.

Residency week 16th Jan – 20 Jan

Mrs. Elstone and the class had excelled in their efforts to complete all the pre-production work needed for me to start the groups filming this week. Now we had our Jabberwocky egg, Bandersnatch nest, poisonous flowers, jabberwocky footprints and tooth and everything we needed to dress our sets, all we needed to do was plan our shooting schedule around our Tulgey weather!

Working with their storyboards and a shot list the group filmed each of the scenes they needed for the sequence, once these were ‘in the can’ I allowed time for them to experiment with additional shots and takes that could be added.

In the Tulgey woods we filmed a scientist discovering the poisonous man-eating flowers which he picks and squeezes the poison out of the stem, and we filmed the discovery of the borrowgrove burrows and Bandersnatch nest by a roving exploring who is overcome by the strange sounds she hears in the woods.

Caroline meanwhile had worked with a group on setting the scene of the laboratory which had been brilliantly thought out and had lots of detail – down to jars of ‘acidic urine of the scorpic’ and graphs showing numbers of creatures discovered in the Tulgey woods.

In the lab we filmed an eye ball being extracted from a jabberwocky egg, and the dissection of jabberwocky droppings – which contained all sorts of surprises.
We then had to remove the ‘lab’ and transform it into a museum setting.

CSI Jabberwocky had collected things from around the school to create the illusion of a museum basement and we filled the shelves with stuffed animals and other curious artefacts that they had created names and labels for. This was where we filmed some of the jabberwocky evidence including a cast of footprint and a tooth kept in a very old box. We finished our schedule by completing some outdoor shots of collecting the egg and discovering the droppings.

The enthusiasm of the class has been amazing and I have been so impressed by their dedication to the task. They were all keen that their films looked as professional as possible, they listened carefully to instruction and quickly picked up the camera skills and techniques, framing, focus and panning. After initially mentoring them in filming the scenes I could begin to stand back and let them take full creative control, they worked as a team and made decisions together about framing and shooting and whether the take was good enough. I had some great feedback from Mrs. Elstone regarding the sessions, as she too is learning about film production the children were going back to class and teaching her about the techniques they had learned.

The next step for the films is for the class to work with Kate, putting some of the music they composed onto their films – some of them also have some voice-overs to record.

November Residency Week posted by lorraine

Mr Barbers class

7th & 10th November

We began the session by discussing what animation was , how it works and the origin of words relating to animation.

The group learned about ‘persistence of vision’, and played with examples of thaumatropes (wonder turners) a Victorian optical toy that merges two images together when spun. They then designed and made their own thaumatropes.

We next looked at creating the illusion of movement using two images, Pauline and Tracey were supporting me in this session and we were able to relate this activity to some of the terms they had used in their dance sessions – side to side – up and down – high and low. The group made roller animations of a character performing an action or changing an emotion – jumping – waving – skipping – calm/scared – happy/sad etc.


In the afternoon we began to work with sequences of images. We discussed how all moving images are made up of a number of changing still images and unrolled a reel of film to show how many pictures it takes to make up just 60 seconds of film.

The group played with examples of flipbooks, then took them apart and shuffled them to see if they could put them back in the correct order by carefully examining the differences in each image. The group then made their own flipbooks – again looking at different types of movement that they had covered in dance sessions – high/low – big/small – near/far – side to side – changing shape. To create a sequence of Images that animated when the book was flicked through. The character animations created in this session were scanned and I compiled the animations into a single movie, the class have been working with Kate and Matt to compose music for each of their characters.

Pixilation ("affected by the pixies" 1848, from pixy-led: bewitched)

Pixilation is a technique where real actors are used in an animated film By repeatedly posing while one or more frame is taken and changing pose slightly before the next frame the actor becomes a kind of living stop motion puppet.

In this session the group tried their hand at some camera based animation techniques. We began by looking at some Pixilation and stop frame movies and discussed how they were made.

Working in the hall Pauline directed small groups in choreographed movements and by taking a series of still images we produced animations of them flying, travelling and spinning. We also
created a magical growing tree based on the ‘thousand arm goddess’ illusion.

Smaller groups worked with Tracy on stop frame animations using objects to animate the different letters of ‘jabberwocky’ being magically formed. We also created some of the letters using body forms and pixilated movement. The group will also be working with Kate to compose a soundtrack for these animations.

12th December
Growing and Changing

The aim of this session was to introduce a technique that the class could use to produce animations for the final performance, and continue to work on in their own time.

We thought it would be nice to make something that could be projected onto the jabberwocky and as Mr. Barber had been doing some work on the life cycle of plants we continued this into image sequences of something growing and changing.

We talked about movement and sequences, adding interest – would it grow straight up or bend as it moves – would it grow slowly or quickly – how smaller changes make the animation appear slower and larger changes/fewer frames make it appear faster. We looked at silhouettes and discussed how you can tell what something is – how would you tell the difference between an orange and a tennis ball for example.

Working in pairs they designed a fruit or a flower that might grow in the Tulgey wood – this could be a real fruit/flower or one from their imagination that they would give a name, and they designed the seed from which it would grow.

Using storyboards, they planned what sequence of images would be needed to animate from the seed to the final fruit/flower.

They re-created these drawings on coloured paper and cut each one out to create a silhouette sequence of their growing fruit/flower.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

November Residency Week posted by Caroline Small

Mrs Elstone's Y6

Inspired by the 'documentary soundtrack' music created in one of the Opera North workshops Lorraine and I (with Judith's full support!) decided to be really ambitious with this group and actually get them to make a documentary film which would bring together the various strands they've been working on (i.e. 'scientific research'; news story of the alleged killing of a human by a Jabberwock; interviews with experts; persuasive writing arguing either for the destruction or the preservation of all Jabberwocks).

My first session with this group focused on developing ideas for the content of the documentary. We began by exploring the news story which 'triggers' the documentary, i.e. the alleged killing of a human by a Jabberwock:

  • Who is the dead man (they've called him Fred)
  • How exactly did he die?

The children wrote 'eye-witness' accounts in role as Fred's family and friends. A detailed story began to emerge.

Next we explored:

  • What is a documentary?
  • What will be the focus of our documentary?
  • What will be the content of the documentary?
  • What have we already created in terms of content? (e.g. research findings; interviews with experts; persuasive speeches; protest songs; soundtrack etc)
  • What techniques could we use to present the information?
  • Who will appear in the film?

The children came up with some fantastic ideas including:

  • 'News desk' style presentations
  • Studio interviews
  • Studio debate - experts and questions from audience
  • Live coverage of events e.g. a protest march
  • Wildlife documentary footage about the Jabberwocks' life and habitat - filmed on location in the woods (nature area)
  • Reconstructions as in 'Crimewatch'
  • Footage from CCTV cameras
  • Footage taken from the dead man's own camera
  • 'Vox Pop' opinions and eye-witness accounts
  • Experiments in a laboratory examining a Jabberwock's egg and Jabberwock droppings
  • I collated all the ideas and came up with a 'three-act structure' for the documentary:

    Act One - Focus: The Death of Fred

    - news bulletins
    - footage from Fred's camera
    - CCTV footage (with commentary from presenter)
    - eye-witness accounts
    - interview with Fred's family

    Act Two - Focus: Background information on Jabberwocky

    - 'wildlife documentary' footage:

    the Tulgey Wood;
    borogoves and slithy toves;
    examining Jabberwocky droppings;
    scientists in laboratory examining eggs etc.

    - includes interviews with Jabberwocky experts

    Act Three - Focus: What should be done?

    - presentation of arguments for and against the destruction of all Jabberwocks
    - video clips of 'protest march'
    - possible studio debate


    - closing words from studio presenters
    - ? Let the audience decide - text vote?

Later in the week, I supported Kate in a session during which the children recorded the soundtrack music for the documentary.

The next step will be to organise all the pre-production planning, scripting and prop-making and for the group to work with Lorraine on a storyboarding the film.

Mrs Parker's Y4/5

The focus of my work this week was to develop an 'epic poem' which will become the narration for the dance/drama/music piece this class are going to create in collaboration with Phoenix Dance, Opera North and myself.

Originally I'd thought of writing either a 'saga' (along the lines of Beowulf!) or a ballad. After discussions with Kate, Tracy and Pauline we decided to go for the ballad form thinking the style would be more accessible to the children. The rhythm will help them to devise and perform their movement and they can also work with Kate to set some or all of the ballad to music.

During three sessions with this class I:

  • Introduced them to several ballads in the traditional style (Robin Hood and the Widow's Sons, Bedd Gelert and Growltiger's Last Stand). Interestingly the one they really engaged with was Bedd Gelert which is the most difficult both in language and in its 'tough' themes of revenge and guilt.
  • Used verses from these poems to analyse rhythmic patterns and rhyme schemes.
  • Did lots of oral and movement-based work to get the children to feel and sustain rhythm.
  • Got the children to create a Rhyme Bank which encouraged them to understand that it's the sound that counts, not necessarily the spelling.
  • Looked at half-rhymes.
  • Showed them verses with words missing and asked them to predict what those words were using rhythm and rhyme scheme as clues.
  • Did various collaborative writing exercises to encourage the children to write using rhythm and rhyme. The most successful of these was a simple verse about food using my example as a pattern:

I like ice-cream, I like jam,
I like sandwiches filled with ham;
I like butter on my toast
But the best meal of all is a Sunday roast

Later I used Robin Hood and the Widow's Sons to show them how to 'map' the story of a ballad.

Finally we developed the content for our own ballad - The Tragic History of Jabberwocky and the Green Knight. One of the ideas which had emerged from the drama they created in the first residency was that Jabberwocky and the Green Knight had known each other - and been rivals - all their lives. I asked them to map out a series of incidents from birth to adulthood. In small groups they storyboarded each section then collaboratively made decisions about the ending - which 'dovetails' neatly into the original Jabberwocky poem. The ending they came up with is a tragic one and makes direct thematic references to the story in Bedd Gelert. I'm really pleased that this work has enabled them to talk about 'big', difficult emotions.

My plan is to outline the ballad leaving gaps for the children to complete.

Mr Barber's Y5/6

One of the projects this class are doing with Terry is to make puppets using mostly plastic rubbish. This tied in neatly with my idea of creating the myths and legends of the Jabberwock's world (an idea inspired, incidentally, by a Jabberwocky 'creation myth', told spontaneously by a member of Judith's class).

I told three 'Tales of How and Why' to the class:

Six Suns (or How the Cockerel got its Comb) - traditional Chinese tale
How Coyote Gave Fire to the People - traditional Native American tale
How the Camel Got His Hump by Rudyard Kipling

After introducing the 'Rubbish Puppets' we started to explore who these 'intruders' were and how they came to be in the Jabberwocks' world. This will lead to story writing and will also feed ideas into the puppet making session.

The plan is to animate the puppets and to tell their story in some way, perhaps as part of the final event in the trail.

Mrs Tricklebank's Y3/4 and Miss Monk's Y3

Both classes had a storytelling session using the same three stories as above. The Chinese tale and the Kipling story are particularly good for encouraging audience participation!

Miss Monk's class followed up the storytelling by writing their own 'How and Why' stories based on the snake-like creatures they've made with Terry and which will eventually live in the trees of the Tulgey Wood (i.e. the trail!)

Titles they came up with were:

Why the snakes hide in the trees
How the snakes got their legs/wings/three heads
How the snakes found their voices
How the bad snakes became good
How the snakes came to the Tulgey Wood

I gave them opening and closing lines to frame their stories:

"Long ago, when the world was young…"

"And that is why…"

Mrs Tricklebank's class tied the stories in with their own 'epic story' which tells of a journey into the Tulgey Wood. They have just reached the point where their characters meet a Bandersnatch and they all wanted to know what a Bandersnatch was like.

The best way to find out was to interview a Bandersnatch so I asked the children to think of the questions they would ask. Then in pairs they worked on conversations between a child and a Bandersnatch. Some lovely ideas emerged. I particularly liked the idea that the Bandersnatch might not want answer all the questions, might be evasive or might not tell the truth.

opera north update

Here's the latest on the music front!
Judith's class have all created and recorded various instrumental motifs that fit with their original ideas for the documentary. They did brilliantly when we recorded this as I had no voice, they had a lot of noisy instruments and fortunately enough discipline and motivation not to play them when were recording. These sections will later on be put with the documentary - some obviously changing their context slightly - but the kids will be able to sort all that out!
They also have their protest songs which need some finishing off.

Philip's class have turned into the music techno whizzes! They've recorded sounds and texts using their voices to match their cartoon character and commissioned music from Matt to fit alongside it. They've begun processing this and matching it up with the animation. They've also given the individual phonemes in the word 'Jabberwocky' personalities, recorded them, added effects and this will later be able to be fitted with the letter animation. The music for the final pixilation section is yet to be done! In addition they have started to work on a chant to go with the rubbish puppets. This grew out of some drama work we did exploring ideas of armies, generals and footsoldiers. Philip has a list of the words which the pupils are learning, - it includes names like Gilbert, Warrior, knuckle boxer, Nellie, Gangster, Yo, Beowulf.....!

Rachael's class has just started some musical work, writing a melody that captured the way that they had intoned their 'Who started it' poem, contuing on from the work with Caroline. This group needs to have quite a lot of music input over this term.

Jennifer's and Sally's class now have an intact structure from beginning to end. Both of them are made up of a mixture of sounds that they have recorded or performed and composed themselves that have then been processed, recordings of sounds that they have 'live processed' (ie. stretched, speeded up, pitch shifted, echoed etc.) song and spoken text. It has been great fun creating both of these pieces as the way that the small sections of material have been worked on, explored and then fitted together to form something which sounds fundamentally exciting, large-scale and impressive has been rewarding for all involved. It was really nice for me too to be able to assemble the pieces in a collaborative and immediate way with Pauline. These still need a lot of work tidying, but it feels good to have some groups where the structure is all in place and all the organic work has fitted together into something that can be performed.

Incidentally, both Sally's and Philip's classes have songs which don't quite fit into their dance pieces but which could possibly go into the evening sharing.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Phoenix Dance Residency 2

Phoenix Dance Theatre

Once again, the week has flown by and has been immense fun learning new techniques in film and visual art, which will connect to the dance component.

Monday 7th November
Pauline and I were supporting Lorraine as she worked with Phillip’s group on animation techniques, these would on the Thursday, be incorporated into creating different elements of the film that will be shown to parents on the performance day and used as a projection in Judith’s groups performance.

Students looked at
Thaumatropes (Toy of optical illusion)
Flip Books
Learnt about ‘persistence of vision’

Tuesday 8th November
An essential and helpful planning day with Lorraine, looking at developments in the children’s work and setting the format and content of Thursday’s session.

Wednesday 9th November
Pauline and I worked solely with Judith’s group establishing in the morning sessions a fun exercise where students became ‘detectives’ in ‘Kiveton Park Meadows Forensic Department’. The aim of this session was to find an engaging and interesting way for the students to explore the internal organs and skeletal structure of the human body and then develop this further by looking at the Jabberwocky.

The first part of the morning was spent in the ‘computer lab’ working with an interactive program on the BBC website, in teams of two students were asked to identify specific internal organs or parts of the skeleton when given clues by myself and Pauline. They then had to find the appropriate diagram rotate to the specific angle in appears in the body and fit it into the space.

Internal Organs
Voice Box

Pivot Joint

After finding, these organs and bones / joints students were asked to fill in notes on their forensic sheets (see below).

On returning to the classroom students were then given the exercise of thinking what type of internal organs and skeletal structure the Jabberwocky might have, the following are descriptions and names given by the children.

The Jabberwocky
The jabberwocky has three sets of lungs:

SNORKEL PUMPERS – These are the Jabberwocky’s underwater lungs, so he came swim in the sea or the lakes without being seen (does the Lock Ness Monster have these?)

OXYBALLOONS – The Jabberwocky’s lungs that breath in Carbon Dioxide and out Oxygen, thus making our ’monster’ ecologically friendly to humans.

FLAMEFLATOR – The set of lungs that help the Jabberwocky breathe fire.

Two hearts:
The Jabberwocky has two hearts one for love which is very small and the other to pump its acid blood around his huge body.

LOVE SQUASHER – No love held in this heart.

SONIC BOOM – Makes loud beating noises

- The Jabberwocky’s spine is very long and mobile and has vertebrae like blocks that slot together.

After creating these organs and parts of the skeleton students were asked to write down on their forensic note sheets:
Name of the organ / bone / joint
The function of the organ / bone / joint
A diagram of the organ / bone / joint

In the afternoon, we began working with Terry to create a frame of circles that will form parts of the Jabberwocky’s body. Students were asked to work in groups and plait sections of withy’s together to make structurally sound circles.

Thursday 10th November
Working once more alongside Lorraine with Phillip’s group we began to film different ways of animating the students and artefacts.

Pauline warmed up the students and then taught them how to jump at the same time in small groups. The aim of this was to create a stop frame animation where the students would eventually look like they were flying on film. We varied pathways, jumps and arm movements from group to group to make their work more diverse and interesting.

Whilst Pauline and Lorraine continued to work with the majority of the group, I took small groups into the corridor to create a series of digital stills of letters created with leaves, footprints, twigs and other items. The purpose of this was to take roughly 25 individual shots of a letter, which was altered slightly at every digital photograph to run when played at a fast speed into a short animated film.

This idea was also continued using bodies either lying on the floor or standing to create the remaining letters that would eventually spell ‘Jabberwocky’.

J Conker tree helicopters
A Arch way of two standing bodies
B 3 bodies on the floor
B Leaves
E Fern
R Twigs
W Footprints
O Bodies
C Grapes
K Bodies on the floor
Y 2 Bodies standing

We also coordinated small groups to move in a circular pattern whilst standing or sitting, moving a quarter segment each time so when speeded up on camera it would look like they were spinning on the spot.

Further elements need to be created and we will hopefully work with this group again on the 13th of December.

Friday 11th November
The morning session was a continuation for Judith’s group of constructing the Jabberwocky, this time we added white lycra material onto the frame work, students connected this to the frames with string and glue to thoroughly secure it.

The afternoon session was led solely by myself and Pauline and we discussed how the Jabberwocky could move and how it is similar to the ‘Chinese Dragon’ used festival and processions. We also discussed how we could show the Jabberwocky’s internal organs and the students have decided to use cut out shapes, lighting gels and torches.

We held a short session in the hall where students were able to interact with and see the size of the Jabberwocky (the full length of the hall). This was followed by duet work focussing on walking at the same pace and rhythm as you partner using kinaesthetic awareness and peripheral vision. The aim of this was to enable students to work together in a cohesive manner but more importantly if they are to be under the Jabberwocky frame the need to be able to move as a group.

The final part of the session was again duet based but this time looked at how the lungs might move, whether the Snorkle Pumpers, The Flameflaters or Oxyballons. The students created short phrases of movement and then added sound effects that they thought suited the type of lung that they were trying to convey.

Further ideas and thoughts:
After another incredible week being inspired by both the students, teachers and other artists, Pauline and I began to piece together ways of crossing over elements of the Jabberwocky frame / Chinese dragon and using it in other pieces.

Sally’s group to use the tail of the Jabberwocky within their dance piece as a lantern that attracts the fantastic animals of the wood out from their hiding places.
Jennifer’s group to use the two neck sections as lanterns / nests, for the plants to grow around shrouding the light with their capes.
Rachel’s group to use Jabberwocky’s head within the narration and performance of Caroline’s story.
Philip’s group to create the film that is projected onto the Jabberwocky in the performance.
Judith’s group to form the Jabberwocky / Chinese dragon and lead the procession into the woods.

Jabberwocky Frame
– using 3 hoops & connected together with a frame this section is fused and therefore not mobile. Completely covered with white lycra.

Abdomen – flexible & half - covered with white lycra to make it easy to insert bodies inside the stomach.

Thorax - flexible & half - covered with white lycra to make it easy to insert bodies inside to represent the internal organs.

Neck (two parts) – Static and completely covered in white lycra

Head – yet to be designed and created

Legs – made from wood with life like joints, to be covered in red material (these will be attached to both ends of the thorax and abdomen

Thursday, November 03, 2005

What Caroline got up to in weeks 2 and 3 (Part Two)

Following on from my previous post, here's a summary of the work I did with the other three classes in Weeks 2 and 3 (between 19th and 30th September).

MRS PARKER'S Y4/5 : Focus - Jabberwocky's Early Life

At the end of the storymaking worksop in Week 1, this group arrived at Jabberwocky's home and decided that they'd also travelled back in time so that Jabberwocky was still alive. This led to an exploration of Jabberwocky's past and the creation of 'flashbacks' from his early life.

The first sessions with this class were drama based and included initial skills work on characterisation and group collaboration.

Then I asked the children to think of a strong memory from their own lives and shared this with a partner. This helped us to identify different kinds of memory: happy, sad, embarassing, frightening etc

Next the children worked in groups to invent one of Jabberwocky's 'memories' and created a freeze frame to show a key moment from that memory.

Short scenes were developed from the freeze frames using action and dialogue. This gave us me the opportunity to work on performance skills and on structuring the drama to give a clear opening and a clean ending.

During a further session in the classroom I focused on turning the improvised scenes into short scripts. We looked at the difference between Narration and Dialogue then the groups worked collaboratively to write the script of their scene. This is a very difficult writing exercise - made even more challenging by having to work as a group - but the children rose to the challenge.

There wasn't time for them to finish in my final session but they've been polishing their scripts in the mean time and I'm looking forward to reading them.


Session 1: Exploring Jabberwocky's Pont of View

I began with a characterisation exercise using three basic emotions: happy, sad, frightened which allowed the children to explore the language (verbal and non-verbal) of emotion. This led to the creation of a Word Bank for feelings/emotions/qualities :

thoughtful etc

After a group re-cap of 'the story so far' we were back at Jabberwocky's home. We thought about who we might we see there - Jabberwocky's mother, father, brother, friend etc

In role as members of Jabberwocky's family, the children heard the news that Jabberwocky had been killed and explored how they felt. Then using my own example as a 'frame' they wrote short poems in Jabberwocky's memory. The idea was to recall a happy memory of Jabberwocky and their relationship with him. Here are a few examples:

My brother is gone -
I miss my brother.

I remember the day
When me and my brother went hunting -

The trees were waving,
The wind was blowing,
The stones were rolling,
My brother was with me.

My brother is gone -
I miss my brother.


My dad is gone -
I miss my dad.

I remember the day
My dad took me to the restaurant -

The sky was dull,
The weather was cold,
My father laughed,
I felt giddy inside.

My dad is gone -
I miss my dad.


My cousin is gone -
I miss my cousin.

I remember the day
My cousin was born -

The moon was shining,
My mum was singing,
I was dancing
With him by my side.

My cousin is gone -
I miss my cousin


My best friend is gone -
I miss my best friend.

I remember the day
When my best friend went on holiday with me -

The sun was shining,
The water was roasting,
My best friend dived into the pool,
I felt like I was going to melt.

My best friend is gone -
I miss my best friend.


Session 2: Riddles

I ran a short session on Wednesday morning exploring a range of different riddle poems - some very old Anglo-Saxon ones, others more recent. The group gradually got the idea of the extended metaphors in the Anglo-Saxon ones and had a go at writing some of their own, using objects or creatures form the natural world or everyday objects around the home.

The follow-up took place on Friday afternoon - and I was put on the spot trying to decipher the riddles they'd written!

Next we returned to the idea of writing riddles as 'clues' to help someone find their way - we'd experienced these at Forbidden Corner. After returning in our minds to the 'twisting turning path' we'd explored in Week 1, the children drew maps of a short section of the path. They had to include at least two places where a traveller would have to make a choice and then write a riddle to help the traveller. I also asked them to label their maps descriptively, for example, not just 'A Cave' but 'A Gloomy Cavern, full of moving shadows, where water oozes from the walls' .

Each section of the map has entrance and exit points along the edges and these are of a fixed width to enable the sections to be joined together into one enormous 'domino map'.

MRS ELSTONE'S Y6 : Who is Jabberwocky and where does he come from?

Session 1:

The Hall was available for 45 minutes this morning so we began with a short drama session which focused on developing group skills using a physical theatre exercise (creating 'living scenery').

In their Literacy work this group are starting to focus on audience and purpose in their written work so I was able to use the drama work to initiate a discussion about the different registers and language functions they'd used to work successfully as a group. Using various role play situations we explored some of these e.g. persuading, negotiating, demanding, questioning etc

Mrs Elstone was keen to focus on the world of Jabberwocky and to develop the background to the poem. Back in the classroom we started to work on 'back story'. I described the methods I use to develop characters and plots - basically asking questions and making up the answers! - then in pairs the children devised a set of questions they felt needed answering about Jabberwocky and his world. Their questions were brilliant and very wide ranging. (Where did J. come from? Is there just one Jabberwocky? How do Jabberwocky's reproduce? What conditions do they need in order to survive? How do they communicate? etc)

Session 2:

In role as 'Jabberwocky experts' - scientists and environmentalists who had made the Jabberwocky the subject of their research - the children interviewed each other to try and find answers to their questions.

We then held a conference - The 95th Annual Conference on the Jabberwocky - which I chaired. Mrs Elstone took minutes and the children stayed in role as delegates. Each delegate presented his or her research findings and issues were debated thoroughly.

This was a fantastic session. I was impressed by the way in which the children adopted the slightly formal tone which I established at the start of the conference and as each delegate - completely unprepared and unrehearsed - stood to present their findings, the level of language used became more and more sophisticated. They were also astonishingly good at debating - sticking to their guns in the teeth of opposition - and they sustained the 'fiction' for the rest of the morning (well over an hour). Although the majority were very conservation-minded and took the attitude that Jabberwocky is an endangered creature who must be tolerated, understood and protected, a small number felt that the Jabberwocky is dangerous, cannot possibly co-exist with human beings and should be hunted down and destroyed.

I left them with two possible writing tasks: the script of an interview with one or more experts for a serious TV discussion programme, or a speech to be given to a government board of enquiry, arguing for or against the destruction of all Jabberwocks.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

What Caroline got up to in Weeks 2 and 3 (Part One) - posted by Caroline Small

After an inspiring first week, the project moved to a new level during the week beginning 19th September as collaborative opportunities began to open up. For me, participating in Tracy and Pauline's dance workshops was invaluable and we explored (with increasing excitement) the common ground in our creative processes and the possibilities for future work with the children.

I also participated in some of Terry's truly magical workshops in the woods, wished I was nine years old again, and came away with fresh ideas to feed into my own workshops later in the week.

MISS MONK'S Y3 - Focus: The Creatures of Tulgey Wood

At the end of the previous workshop we had played around with portmanteau words to make up names for the creatures in the wood. Splitting and then combining the names of real animals resulted in such wonders as Butterbeet, Hippocrocopig and Zebator but I wanted to concentrate on the creatures' movement to create links with the dance workshops. After brainstorming movement words I showed the children how to combine them to create names such as Squiggleflipper and Scuttletwister - using the real life example of the Sidewinder!

Between them the children invented over 60 new creatures. Some of my favourites are:


I could go on but you get the idea!

Tracy and Pauline then bravely took the class into the hall to explore the movement of these new creatures. A very exciting session! The children's movement ideas were highly imaginative and ambitious.

By the time I returned for my next session with this class, the children had already written 'scientific definitions' of their imaginary creatures. These will go into a large encyclopedia being created in collaboration with Mrs Tricklebank's class who will write entries about the plants which grow in Tulgey Wood.

I wanted the children to write in role - to give the creatures a voice - in a form which might ultimately becaome a chant/song/narration to accompany movment and dance. Through a short visualisation I took them back to the habitats, dens and lairs they'd created in the woods with Terry and asked them to visualise their creature emerging from the den. Some of them were then able to describe their creatures in great detail. We brainstormed vocabulary for parts of the body, useful adjectives and finally looked at similes. The children then wrote 'verses' using a simple pattern I'd created for them:

What do you see when you look at me?

A body like a shoe lace,
A furry brown head,
Ten sharp teeth
And eleven strong legs.

Creep up close and listen to my name -

It has to be said that the children's descriptions were much more interesting than mine.

MRS TRICKLEBANK'S Y3/4 - Focus: The Plants in Tulgey Wood

This class didn't have a session in the woods with Terry so we took them dow there to explore and discover the sculptures, trails and habitats created by other groups.

We didn't touch anything or move anything or pick anything up but we did make an enormous collection of WORDS:

Words to name the parts of plants - trunk, stalk, thorn, leaf
Words to describe the shapes and textures of the woodland - spiky, squelchy, knobbly etc
Words to describe the sounds of the woodland - rustling, tramping, crunching etc
Words to describe the way the plants move and grow - sway, creep, stretch etc

This developed into an extensive Word Bank for the Tulgey Wood.

Back in the classroom we split the class into two groups. One group worked with Tracyy and Pauline to create magical plants using movement. The other group worked with me and did drawings of their plants which they then labelled descriptively, focusing on what the plant does, how it moves etc.

Then the groups swapped over. Tracy felt that her second group were more successful becasue they already had an image of the plant which they could translate into movement.

Most of the plants they invented were pretty mean and dangerous! We want to develop the magical quality of the plants - perhaps as night falls they change their nature.

In my next session I wanted to explore the quality of words - their sound and sense - to try an encourage richness in the children's writing.

As an experiment I read Keats' To Autumn and asked them just to listen to the sound of the words and tell me how the poem made them feel:

"Happy and sad at the same time."
"I want to curl up in front of the fire."
"Like a marshmallow - soft and sweet and sticky...."

And many other fantastic responses.

Working with the Word Bank we played with the 'texture' of the words orally - partly to get them all to read the word bank and partly to develop vocal confidence/performance skills.

Finally I introduced my ideas for the plants' "threats and promises":

I will stretch out my prickly finger and tickle your ear.

I will stroke you gently with my soft, smooth stems and my tendrils will twine around your feet.

I will snatch at your hair and scratch your face with my spiky fingers.

Or using the formal 'pattern':

My bark will twist and wind and scrape,
My leaves will shiver and shuffle and shake,
My roots will creep and crackle and crawl
Then trip you up and make you fall.

The children then wrote their own threats and promises - mostly threats!

More to follow!

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Opera North week - Kate

a really enjoyable week 1 for me! I've obviously tried to pick up on the work that's been going on with Caroline, ~Tracey and Terry. Each group has spent some time on general music skills - singing, rhythm and some instrumental work. They've also all written something 'song-like' - some more traditional than others. Most are recorded, but a couple didn't come out - hence the odd gap in lyrics! I also need to cross check the words with the recordings - but will have everything double checked for Friday's meeting.

Sally's Y3: we used the words describing the creatures and the way they moved to create a (fairly comic!) song:

There is a runripper, runripper
Wiggle squiggler, wiggle squiggler
Spinstopper, spinstopper
Zebotohopper, zebotohopper
Crocodog, crocodog
lepohog, lepohog
? (can't remember this one!)
Blue bendy jiggler

The hippocrocopig wears a multi-coloured wig
The yellow butterbeet eats leopotar meat
The tarantasnake bakes strawberry cake
From the dark cold mud in the Tulgey wood

(plus a second verse with more creatures)

Jennifer's Y3/4: wrote a mysterious song about walking through the Tulgey wood, focussing on the trees, ground etc.

Jumping over logs and leaves,
Toffee wrappers blowing
Thorns scratching
Blossoms swaving
Ivy tendrils curling

Smoke drifting, smoke drifting
Spiders' webs clinging,
Shining in the moonlight
Birds singing/flying?
Tweaking a warning in the darkness.

Rachael's Y4/5
Started with ideas of the beach for Caroline's journey. They made a word piece which was then accompanied by playing the inside of the piano, and also the beginnings of a more traditional song.

Ripples, ripples,
Spreading spreading spreading
The sea tells us 'shhh'

Footsteps on squelchy sand,
feet sinking,
water filling,
Hot dry sand, soft as a pillow

Philip's Y5/6
Written one song, a mock serious lament from the jabberwocky's friends during which the gruesomeness of the kids' imaginations really came to the fore! And a rhythmic journey over the beach with some short sung phrases.

The Jabberwocky has gone
We all really miss him

He was kind and fun
Making toys for the children from bones

We remember his garden full of man-eating plants
We remember his river of mutation (my favourite line)
We remember his fire fountain, sizzling and blazing
We remember his pond like a graveyard of bones

Sly slippy sand, creamy like caramel

The stinging sea sparkles in the sunlight, makes us gasp!


Judith's Y6
Concentrated on 'research conference' about whether the jabberwocky should be killed. Firstly, they wrote instrumental pieces that would accompany a documentary about the jabberwocky, including theme music, lament for dead Fred (eaten by the Jabberwocky), scientists experimenting on a Jabberwocky egg in the lab, tracking it to its lair, eating music, scary music etc.

They went on to create two political songs, one for each side of the 'to kill or not to kill' argument. This was great fun!

He's a murderer, he's a menace, he's a killer, destroying the human race etc.

He has got the right to live, revenge is not the answer etc.

I'll bring a CD with as much as poss. for Friday, and some notation for any who want some.

Monday, September 26, 2005


First of all I would like to say how great last week was, both myself and Pauline were delighted with the level of commitment and enthusiasm of the students (and other artists) during the sessions. It was also very benefitial for both of us to view other artists work and consider new ideas and ways of developing the dance work further in conjunction with the stories, film work and visual art.

For those that were not there to experience the Phoenix double act here is a breif summary of areas which were covered.

As mentioned in my previous entry the first week of dance workshops were aimed to introduce some basic dance skills in realation to each groups later work without delving to deeply into the Jabberwocky story or pictures.

Class 3:
Balances – on own / with partner
This group were fantastic at travelling and working with a partner, it was great to have the opportunity to teach a sole dance session and a combined session with Caroline.

Our ideas have now developed to exploring 'fantasy animals' with amazing names like 'joggerjumpers' and 'rollingtwirlers' which will create a dance piece which will begin in the classroom and travel into the hall. I have discussed with Caroline the idea of creating masks and a soundtrack of noises / chants.

Class 3 /4:
Key Elements:
Balances – on own / with partner

This group showed their ability to use different pathways and work effectively with a partner and once agan we were able to combine some of the work with Caroline ans started to explore the different plants that live in the 'Tulgey Wood'. It was great to see the ideas spilling out as the children created both physically and through pictures their 'fantasy plants'. Again both myself and Pauline have thought about how we can develop this through dance and would lke to introduce the character of the night who cuts through the plants in the wood but will the plants let him pass?

Class 4/5:
Working within confined spaces – hula hoops etc
Facial expression
Balances – on own / with partner

This group had worked really hard and had a great time using facial expressions, we explored the concept of confined space (using a hula hoop) and asked the children to create human statues in an art gallery. All the students showed great understanding of working with and aiding a partner as they had to help design and choreograph each others sequences within the hoops.

After discussions with Caroline and joining in a movement session we are now looking at creating a narrative which through movement and spoken word will recreate scenes from the children's Jabberwocky stories. We will still incorporate the idea of the art gallery but each picture will be in a different room in the school so the audience will have to follow the narrator or work out the rhyme to find the next picture.

Class 5 / 6

Word association

This group worked in a more abstract way and used words to create movement sequences. we looked at movement dynamics and travelling across the space with a partner.

We will develop this work further with Lorraine when we make the film and animations of words, as the group showed solid team working skills it would be nice to introduce further partner work and maybe some lifts in their dance film.

We are also thinking of using this film to project onto year 6's 'Jabberwocky' choreography, which will fully integrate the work between the two year groups!!

Class 6:
Balances – on own / with partner
Stretching (expanding) & enclosing

Again we were completely blown away by the groups commitment, there partner / contact work was well executed and very thoughfully performed. It was really good to see young people concentrate so hard and perform some very intricate movements.

Both myself and Pauline are very excited about creating this groups piece using pliable fabric and a structure which will hopefully be created by Terry as a representation of the Jabberwocky. The fabric will also have images projected onto it compiled from the year 5/6's dance film.

The whole week has been fantastic and I have enjoyed every minute of it, both myself and Pauline commented on the positive role models that the class teachers gave across by taking part in the dance sessions (something that teachers usually run away from).

Our only sadness this week has been the unnecessary and blatant vandalism of the woods and the destruction of all Terry and the childrens hard work. I hope Terry can get back on track and that the actions of one person do not destroy the magic of the woodland trail for so many others.

I am looking forward to the planning day and will start jotting more ideas down with Pauline!!!

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Week One posted by Caroline

I've had the honour of kicking off the project and for me this first week has been inspiring, energetic and exhausting - but absolutely wonderful! The enthusiasm of the children and the commitment of the staff have been overwhelming.

I've had two sessions with each class (all morning or all afternoon) in which I've focused on three main areas:

1. Sharing my own practice with the children to give them an insight into how I work (where ideas come from, different ways of developing them, finding the potential in an idea etc)

2. Generating and exploring ideas using storytelling and drama.

3. Establishing different ways of working collaboratively and building confidence.

Here's a summary of what each group has been doing:


ALL CLASSES - have listened to a storytelling performance based on my play, 'The Hollow Country', which I chose because it's set partly underground (links with Forbidden Corner); because it involved the creation of a fantasy world which has its own rules; because the language is rhythmic, alliterative, playful; because the narrative makes use of the classic 'quest' structure (links with thousands of other stories/myths/legends) which may link with our 'quest' for the Jabberwocky.

ALSO - everyone has worked on some basic physical theatre skills including 'hypno-hand' (reflective movement), shadowing, mime and freeze frame. We've done some of this work to music. I hope this will 'dovetail' nicely with the dance workshops Tracy has planned.


A story-making workshop. I've used the Same starting point for everyone but the details depend on choices made by the children. The starting point is in the real world - on a beach. Two characters are building a sandcastle. As they dig they find an old box which contains a key with the following label:

Turn me once,
Turn me twice,
Turn me once again.

Hold your breath,
Step boldly through
Then count right up to ten.

Next they look for the door which fits the key! We've had doors beneath the sand, a door at the back of a cave and the door of an old, dilapidated beach hut. Next we've taken ten steps, ten strokes swimming underwater or ten rungs of a ladder after which we've reached the next clue which says:

Though the path may twist and turn,
Travel boldly till you learn,
By the laws of land and sea,
Where on earth this place may be.

We've travelled the twisting, turning path and the children have come up with some fabulous descriptions of the path and its surroundings (GREAT POTENTIAL TO LINK WITH THE TRAIL, TERRY). It would take too long to list them all here but they include a bridge over a pool of lava and a tree which sings 'Beware! Beware! There's something down there' (The child who came up with that even sang it to us.)

At the end of the path we've received a third message which says where we are (this has come as a message in a bottle, in the hands of a statue of a shipwrecked sailor and held by a Guardian "like-a-Roman-soldier-but-with-better-weapons"!

At this point we've discovered whee we we are and - surprise, surprise - we're either in the Tulgey Wood or at Jabberwocky's Home.

MISS MONK'S Y3 - In the Tulgey Wood we're focusing on creating the creatures that live there - playing with names of real creatures and splitting them to make portmanteau words. I intend to develop this by getting them to write short poems in which the fantasy animals describe themselves. Movement words very important here. It would be great for them to have the chance to create the creatures physically and work out how they move.

MRS TRICKLEBANK'S Y3/4 - We've started to create the plants/trees/shrubs of the Tulgey Wood. Some physical work in pairs but we ran out of time to develop this fully. I'd like to work on creating riddles or rhymes which the plants actually speak (or sing?).

MRS PARKER'S Y4/5 - Have reached the Jabberwocky's home where the focus is on exploring who Jabberwocky is. Are there others like him? What he's really like? etc

MR BARBER'S Y5/6 - Have also reached Jabberwocky's home and found his wife and family there, wondering what's happened to him. Their focus is to look at things through the eyes of Jabberwocky. Mr B. is very keen on exploring why Jabberwocky is killed, why people are scared of him, fear of difference, seeing other points of view etc

MRS ELSTONE'S Y6 - I only had 45 minutes in the Hall with this class because on Friday mornings the orchestra needs the space so they've got to the end of the twisting, turning path but they still don't know where they are! Back in the classroom, they've started to make a 'map' of the story so far, filling in descriptive details. These are just notes to help with the story they will eventually write. I've also started to work on riddles with this group - they were astonishingly good at solving the ones I gave them.

There's going to be a lot of story writing as follow-up and I'm planning to work on riddles/poems with all groups next week but exactly how this works will depend on the dance workshops which I'm really looking forward to - and also in the work Terry will be doing.

Great to see the photos from Lorraine and Terry. It's a shame there's no photographic record of Week One but maybe this comment (made at the end of Friday afternoon by someone in Mrs Parker's class) just about sums it up:

"This has been reet good!"

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Forbidden Corner : posted by Lorraine

Here are some pictures from our trips to Forbidden Corner. It was the perfect place to start generating ideas for the project and a real inspiration for the idea of a trail at the school.
(click pictures for larger view)

At the start of the visit children were introduced to the Jabberwocky poem, and we then set off to solve the riddles of Forbidden Corner.