St Albans primary school puppet project to come to life thanks to pupils’ creativity

Caitlin Duschenes with Aboyne Lodge Year 6 pupils and their puppets

Caitlin Duschenes with Aboyne Lodge Year 6 pupils and their puppets - Credit: Archant

A puppet project will be coming to life thanks to the hard work of St Albans primary school children.

Aboyne Lodge year 6 pupils practise their puppet show

Aboyne Lodge year 6 pupils practise their puppet show - Credit: Archant

Year 6 pupils at Aboyne Lodge have been toiling away for the past academic year to create their very own puppets, through collaboration with the Young People’s Puppet Theatre.

The project, which teaches young children about puppetry, starts in September with the pupils each making a fully articulated marionette during their normal art lesson.

It teaches them about design, sculpture, painting, sewing, woodwork and dexterity and covers most of the national curriculum for art and DT.

After Christmas they move on to set design and prop-making, then rehearsals begin after their SATS exams.

Their creations will be showcased in an end of year performance, which this year will be traditional Russian fairytales Baba Yaga and The Stolen Turnips.

Jeremy Duschenes, who founded the YPPT after working with Aboyne Lodge, its flagship school, in 1999, 2001 and 2004, has worked on marionette productions since he was at school in the 1960s.

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He said: “Even 10 to 15 years former head teachers and Year 6 teachers’ recollections of the shows were very strong and very positive, and they all encouraged me to roll out the concept on a wider scale.

“I also sought out some of the students who were involved in those shows, people now in their 20s, and they too had really vivid and positive memories of the projects.”

He spent a year researching and talking to educators and eventually set up the YPPT, which he hopes will eventually become a national charity.

His daughter Caitlin, who was one of the project leaders at Aboyne Lodge this year, said: “It’s been great fun working with the Year Six class there, and very rewarding to see the show coming together over the past few weeks!

“It’s been particularly special watching those children who are less academically gifted, as some of them have really blossomed in confidence during the project, which has in turn had positive effects on their academic work.”

Pupil Finlay Patel said: “It was lots of fun. It brings the class together as we have to do teamwork and rely so much on the others.”

Fellow pupil Ned Threadkell said: ‘There would be a massive chain reaction if something were to go wrong if we couldn’t work together as a team.”

The launch evening will take place tomorrow (Thursday, June 18), at 7.30pm at Aboyne Lodge and again on Saturday, June 20 between 2.30pm and 4pm at The Maltings Arts Theatre, available via The Maltings website.