Over the last few years we’ve had so many calls and emails from teachers asking us to create a performance for Christmas. Many schools bring in our performances all year, for Anti-Bullying and drugs education, and they clearly thought we could create a fantastic Christmas show for them. We wanted to help but it’s something we’ve always avoided because we place education and learning at the heart of what we do, and we’ve never felt Cinderella or Aladdin quite fitted the brief.

But after a few creative conversations at Altru HQ, we decided that a new adaptation of a traditional tale could be the answer. It would allow us to create wonderful theatre for schools and ensure that we were meeting our objectives by keeping learning at the centre of our work. And we love literature, stories and classic tales. We were excited by the prospect!

So, in 2014 our director Kate adapted ‎Carlo Collodi’s Pinocchio for the stage and the team toured 26 schools across the North West. Pinocchio is a big story, but we managed to condense it into a beautiful 60 minute show that worked really well for school. The response was phenomenal, teachers and pupils absolutely loved it! The play was magical and Christmassy, funny and poignant and included puppetry and live music played by the actors and original songs devised in partnership with local singer-songwriter (and one of our brilliant practitioners) Ed Poole.

“Engaging, enthusiastic, child friendly and funny – the best we have ever seen!” Freehold Primary School, Oldham

“All children were fully engaged and thoroughly enjoyed the performances. All the teachers commented that it was the best panto we have had and the children behaved beautifully.”  St Anne’s Stanley Primary, Liverpool

The set-up of the show was that the 4 actors were lost and couldn’t find their theatre space and so, after a bit of bickering and some creative thinking, decide to do the performance right where they were – in the school hall. This frame allowed us to create some lovely comic moment, as the actors ‘improvised’ their way through the show and needed help from the audience, providing that all important audience participation. It also meant that they went back to the text again and again – and a large red book with Pinocchio on it was on stage at all times. We hope the show encouraged children to read more classic stories and think about them in new and creative ways.

“Loved the fact that the book was referred to on many occasions. Fantastic acting too – a wonderful afternoon. 10 out of 10!” Holy Family Catholic Primary, Sefton