December 8 2013 Latest news:
Sunday, August 18, 2013
After getting on famously in schools across north Suffolk and south Norfolk, an innovative conservation and creativity project that features five of East Anglia’s most iconic bird species is spreading its wings.
Forthcoming performances of the Famous Five Birds entertainment:
Friday, August 16, 2pm, The Cut Arts Centre New Cut, Halesworth. Tickets £5 adults/£3 children. Family ticket £10 for one adult plus 2 children. Under-fives free. Available from 0845 673 2123 or www.newcut.org
Saturday, August 17, 2pm, Diss Corn Hall, St Nicholas Street, Diss. Tickets £5, adults/£3 children. Available from 01379 652241 or www.disscornhall.co.uk
Monday, August 19, 2pm, RSPB Minsmere Discovery Centre, Westleton. Sold out.
Wednesday, August 21, 2pm, Archbishop Sancroft High School, Wilderness Lane, Harleston. Tickets £5, adults, £3 under-16s and under-fives free. Available from Harleston Festival Box Office at The Swan Hotel, 01379 852221 or Harleston Information Plus, 01379 851917.
Sunday, September 1, 3pm, Beccles Public Hall & Theatre, Smallgate, Beccles. Tickets £5 adults/£3 children. Family ticket £9 for one adult plus two children. Under-fives free. Available from 01502 770060 or www.becclespublichall.co.uk
Saturday, September 21, 11.30am, St Edmunds Parish Hall, St Mary’s Street, Bungay. Tickets £5 adults/£3 children. Family ticket £9 for one adult plus two children. Under-fives free. Available from Jan Dungey on 01986 895227 or email email@example.com
Saturday, September 28, 2pm, St George’s Theatre, King Street, Great Yarmouth. Tickets £5 Adults/£3 children. Family ticket £9 for one adult plus two children. Under-fives free. Available from 01493 331484 or www.stgeorgestheatre.com
Hundreds of primary school children have been involved in – and inspired by – Waveney & Blyth Arts’ Famous Five Birds project which was launched in the spring. Now, after hundreds of hours of imaginative classroom workshops, musical sessions and a host of other creative capers, a Famous Five Birds entertainment presentation is taking to the road.
Puppetry and newly-created music, films and poetry specific to the project feature in the 45-minute touring show which aims to build on the success of the project’s “school run” and fire even more enthusiasm for East Anglia’s special wildlife habitats through its focus on the barn owl, bearded tit, marsh harrier, bittern and nightingale.
Echoing the title of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five children’s adventure series that were written between the early 1940s and the early 1960s, Famous Five Birds is an adventurous partnership project involving the arts group, Suffolk Wildlife Trust, the RSPB and both the Norfolk and Suffolk Biodiversity Partnerships. It has gained grant funding from Suffolk’s Heritage Lottery Fund-supported Touching the Tide project, Essex & Suffolk Water’s Branch Out Fund and the Broads Authority’s Sustainable Development Fund.
The highly-acclaimed environmental writer Mark Cocker, who lives in Norfolk’s Yare Valley, is the project’s patron and said: “The Famous Five Birds project brings people nearer to nature.”
The initiative’s schools phase involved the project’s schools team working with children during March and April. The team visited St Edmund’s Primary School in Hoxne, the Mendham Primary School Partnership, Bungay Primary, Barnby and North Cove Primary, Pakefield Primary, Fen Park Primary in Lowestoft, Edward Worlledge Community Junior School in Great Yarmouth, Southwold Primary, Reydon Primary and Edgar Sewter School in Halesworth.
Suffolk Wildlife Trust’s ornithological adviser Steve Piotrowski and his wife Kathy, RSPB poet Matt Howard and Meg Amsden, of the Nutmeg Puppet Company, worked closely with pupils and teachers in inventive classroom sessions and, as a follow-up, internationally-acclaimed ornithologist, composer and pianist Peter Cowdrey worked with some of the children in “Birdswing” – a presentation focusing on the five bird species’ songs and calls.
Gaining inspiration from all that has gone before in the project, Famous Five Birds is now on tour with a 45-minute entertainment programme that was premiered yesterday at the Seagull Theatre, Lowestoft.
Hosted by the eccentric figure of Bernard the Birder – played by Greg Hanson, of The Keeper’s Daughter theatre company – the presentation features a Nutmeg Puppet Company puppet show, a film of the “Birdswing” work, a special Famous Five Birds song and a host of other segments.
Music for the presentation has been written by Southwold-based pianist and composer Nathan Williamson. As the soundtrack for the puppet show, it was recorded by a seven-strong Famous Five Birds band comprising Clare Mackney on flute, Emily Heldreich on oboe, Jordan Wiseman on trombone, Jozef Gwizdala on guitar, Suzy Angelus on violin, Vicky Uff on cello and the composer as pianist and conductor.
The soundtrack has been recorded and will be on sale in CD format at each of the venues on the tour.
Waveney & Blyth Arts spokeswoman Jan Dungey said the project was proving to be a “brilliant” success, both for creativity and for enhancing youngsters’ awareness of the environment and habitats that were so special in East Anglia.
“Our feedback from the children has shown that they have benefitted greatly, not just artistically but in an environmental sense too. At the start of the project most children could only recognise a barn owl but at the end of the workshops at least 70% of the pupils could recognise all five of the Famous Five Birds species,” she said.
“It’s not just worked well for the children, either. Waveney & Blyth Arts has about 200 members and it has strengthened our members; interest in the environment too.
“It’s all been so enjoyable and worthwhile that the group is now hoping to set up a schools network so that we can do other projects with schoolchildren in the Waveney and Blyth area.”
John Ash, of the Broads Authority Sustainable Development Fund, was similarly excited.
“This project has been absolutely incredible. Of all the projects we have ever supported I think this one was the best.
“It has been, and is, an excellent project,” he said.