Full House Theatre Project
Pulpits and Prison Doors
The Full House Theatre project took place on six days across two weeks in March 2015. During twelve sessions, 860 schoolchildren plus their teachers, assistants and carers took part in an amazing interactive experience in the church, hall, Stevington and Elstow rooms and the museum. They participated in a dynamic and exciting theatre experience learning about John Bunyan and The Pilgrim’s Progress. The children could take pride in Bedford, realise the legacy of Bunyan and the significance of his writing over the years. It was awesome (as in “awe and wonder” – Ofsted criteria!) for the children but also for those of us privileged to work with them and the actors over those six days. To see and hear the children’s reactions particularly in the museum scenes: in the kitchen, Bunyan preaching from the pulpit and in the prison cell; as well as during the finale in the church, was quite moving and I think something they and we will remember for some time to come.
Many of the children were also working on their Discover Arts Award a nationally recognised award, accredited by Trinity College London and took away with them a beautifully produced booklet to which they contributed throughout the session. As well as their memories they will also have a tangible record of their time with us.
Pulpits and Prison Doors was subsidised through Arts Council England which made it accessible and affordable for the schools. Thanks must go to Nicola our curator for successfully obtaining a grant of £14,400 from ACE (part of which will recompense the church for the use of rooms); working with the team from Full House on the administrative aspects of the project; organising our fantastic team of volunteers/museum stewards who assisted so capably and without whom we could not have functioned on the day; and co-ordinating the entire process from its inception some 18 months ago.
A first but not the last we hope of such ventures. Whether working with Full House again or some other organisation we hope we might now embark upon similar projects in the future.