Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Playtime with Mortimer

Five Leaves has never been too fussed if our writers, even our regular writers, bring out books with other publishers. Let a thousand flowers bloom, or something like that. I was pleased then when Playtime: eight plays for and with young people by Peter Mortimer (Flambard, £8.99 via popped through the post. Peter has written several books for Five Leaves and is currently working on a commission for a book about Nottingham but he also works with other publishers, particularly in the North East. The book is what it claims to be, eight playscripts mostly written with and by children and then performed. There is a Five Leaves connection in that one of the plays is the revised Croak, the King & a change in the weather written in Shatila, as part of his stay chronicled in our Camp Shatila. I spend my life avoiding children in practice while interested in education in theory, and found Peter's introduction interesting, basing his work in schools on ideas popularised in his adopted North East by Dorothy Heathcote. who "showed teachers how to use drama as a creative, holistic experience that widened the framework of the curriculum". He combined this theory with the practice of going into schools with an entirely and nerve challenging blank slate, not even thinking of what play might be created until he started talking to the children. Peter ends his introduction by saying that schools are welcome, at no charge, to use the playscripts and "If I'm around, I'll come and see the production."

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