Hull Truck Theatre launches online learning programme for home schooling in February

Until such a gathering can happen again, here comes the Hull Truck @ Home School online learning programme

HULL Truck Theatre has designed a city-wide learning programme to be launched on Tuesday (2/2/2021), in response to schools not reopening until March 8 at the earliest.

Recognising the mounting pressure on parents, carers and teachers to keep students engaged through home schooling, Hull Truck @ Home School will run throughout February, providing work for 20 freelance writers, composers and actors.

Introducing young audiences to drama and theatre-making with a glimpse “behind the scenes” of the creative industry, the specialist programmes will engage primary and secondary school learners, helping to harness both literacy and drama skills.

Key Stage 1 and 2 students – aged five to 11 – will have access to a twice-weekly “drop” of video content and downloadable printable learning resources, every Tuesday and Thursday, that can be accessed via a dedicated area on the Hull Truck website. 

The Create & Play primary learning programme of eight ten-minute online drama lessons has been written specially for each Key Stage audience. Available on-demand, the lessons can be accessed at any time after the publication date and incorporated into weekly lesson plans.

Key Stage 1 resources will include content, exercises and activities centred around famous children’s stories, such as The Three Billy Goats Gruff.

Key Stage 2 will cover subjects ranging from storytelling to stand-up and poetry, and among those delivering the sessions will be Nicola Stephenson (Mrs Hubble, from the BBC’s The Worst Witch) and Hull Truck regular Amy Thompson (from Channel 5’s Milkshake!). 

Hull Truck also will be working with Hull secondary school pupils and teachers to produce an original soap opera, Consequences, set in Hull during lockdown.

Writers, actors and a Hull Truck director will work with students to generate ideas, write scripts and guide direction, culminating in the production of a 25-minute weekly episode to be aired on Hull Truck’s YouTube channel every Friday at 5pm.

The project will comprise of 12 sessions, with two-hour classes taking place every day from Monday to Thursday. Classes will consist of drama exercises, dramatic writing, coaching and directing actors. 

Janthi Mills-Ward, Hull Truck’s executive director, says:“We understand and empathise with the challenges facing teachers, parents and the city’s young people, which is why as a key cultural contributor within the local community we felt passionate about stepping up to offer our support, creating something relevant, creative and engaging.

“The grant we received from Arts Council England as part of the Cultural Recovery Fund in October 2020 has been instrumental in ensuring we can deliver a project of this nature, vitally keeping our local communities connected.”

Janthi adds: “Although we’re currently unable to reopen our doors to welcome audiences back to see work on-stage, we have been able to repurpose our creativity through designing a city-wide learning programme that will benefit Hull’s young people and teachers.

“The content builds on key skills such as literacy, with an injection of theatre and drama. We’re also proud that this project has enabled us to support the creative industry, as we’ve employed 20 freelancers to support the delivery of the project, including writers, composers and actors.

“Our Youth Theatre provision continues to be delivered weekly via the powers of Zoom. We have made these sessions free for participants for the rest of the term, using the donations kindly gifted by audiences who enjoyed Prince Charming’s Christmas Cracker. This creative platform offers young people a much-needed outlet for escapism and some fun with their peers.”

Among the Hull secondary schools that have signed up to take part in the soap opera project are Boulevard Academy, Sirius North Academy, Ron Dearing UTC and Archbishop Sentamu Academy. 

Annie Cooper, head of English at Boulevard Academy, says: “As a school, we are always looking for amazing opportunities for our students and so we jumped at the chance to be involved.

“Such an exciting project would always be a welcome addition to our English and creative arts curriculum, but it is especially important at the moment, when there are so few opportunities for students to be involved in creative activities in the wider world.

“This is a great chance for our students to experience the wonderful world of theatre and develop their writing and creative talents alongside professionals; I know they are going to find it immensely rewarding.”

If you are educating from home and want to use the Create & Play learning resources but have limited access to a computer or printing facilities, please contact Hull Truck Theatre via to arrange for printed copies to be sent directly to your home address.

For more information on Hull Truck @ Home School, go to

Barrie Rutter films with the sharks at The Deep for Hull Truck’s online short stories

Hull actor Barrie Rutter filming Sam Caseley’s short story Aquarium at The Deep on December 14. Picture: Sean Spencer/Hull News & Pictures

BARRIE Rutter OBE returns to his home city of Hull to star in Hull Truck Theatre’s mini-film season, Miracle On The Humber, appearing online in Aquarium from 5pm today (22/12/2020).

The Ferensway theatre has joined forces with KCOM to present four festive short stories, written by Maureen Lennon and Sam Caseley expressly as a magical digital experience for families, in particular children aged five upwards, to enjoy for free.

Rutter, founder and former artistic director of Halifax theatre company Northern Broadsides and now Hull Truck patron, recorded Caseley’s tale Aquarium at The Deep, home to 3,000 creatures, from sharks to sawfish, in Tower Street, Hull.

“It’s a little Christmas story set in The Deep, where we filmed it last Monday,” says Barrie, 74-year-old son of a Hull dockworker. “It was brilliant because we had free rein as no-one else was there, filming with the Blacktip Reef Sharks, the big  Rays and the Sawfish behind me and these massive tortoises above me. I’m delighted to be taking part in this project; the films are just five minutes each and they’re fun.”

Aquarium forms part of a series spun around the themes of kindness, joy, family and love, linked by the simple idea of performing or experiencing a Christmas miracle and filmed at such Hull and East Riding locations as The Deep, Ferens Art Gallery and DoubleTree by Hilton Hull.

The mini-films are being released on Hull Truck’s YouTube channel from December 21 to 24, with Rutter, Channel 5’s Milkshake presenter Amy Thompson, Middle Child Theatre regular Josie Morley and Emmerdale, War Horse and Remould Theatre Company actor Matthew Booth each narrating a story to “celebrate our unique region while instilling local pride”.

The series opened yesterday with Lennon’s re-telling of Cinderella, followed by Aquarium today, The Christmas Kitten tomorrow and The Christmas Lights on Christmas Eve. Each can be watched on Hull Truck’s YouTube channel, accessible to online audiences in the East Riding and beyond, free of charge.

In at The Deep end: Barrie Rutter narrating Aquarium, filmed at the Hull attraction for Hull Truck Theatre’s Miracle On The Humber. Picture: Sean Spencer/Hull News & Pictures

Janthi Mills-Ward, Hull Truck’s executive director, says: “We’re delighted to be working with KCOM to deliver this fantastic project for our communities this Christmas. Born from the idea of KCOM’s ‘Father Christmas line’ in the 1950s. the idea was to bring magical storytelling back to life for the digital age.

“This project celebrates Hull Truck’s experience in great storytelling and KCOM’s digital expertise of connecting friends, families and wider communities. We live in a really special corner of the world, and these short films really bring this home.

“All of the venues featured in the films have had a hard year and have been in some way affected by the pandemic. It’s extra special to be able to bring these spaces back to life again, especially at this time of year.”

John Rooney, managing director of KCOM Retail, says: “We’re thrilled to join forces with Hull Truck Theatre for this fantastic online experience this Christmas. After what has been a very challenging year for many people, we hope that our festive-flavoured short stories bring some Christmas magic into homes across our region as parents and children settle down to watch them together.

“Hull Truck Theatre has pulled together a brilliant cast list of local talent to bring these original tales to life, from writers to actors and filmmakers, and I’m sure, after all the trials and tribulations of the past 12 months, these can herald a positive new chapter for the area and the brilliant people who live here.

“Happy Christmas from everyone at KCOM and we hope you enjoy our heart-warming Yuletide stories.”

Each film will be available online from 5pm on its allotted day to be enjoyed as a bedtime story experience.