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

Hull Truck pantomime Prince Charming’s Christmas Cracker goes online for free

The invitation to Hull Truck Theatre’s streamed pantomime, Prince Charming’s Christmas Cracker

HULL Truck Theatre’s Christmas show, Prince Charming’s Christmas Cracker, will be streamed for free on YouTube from 7pm tonight (22/12/2020).

Written and directed by artistic director by Mark Babych, the virtual show will be available to watch on-demand until January 3.

“Christmas is a time of year when fairy-tale heroes and villains are a firm feature in the plays and pantos that so many of us love to experience as part of the festive calendar,” says Mark.

“Covid-19 is certainly this year’s villain but this year we have so many heroes to thank. We’re delighted the show can be enjoyed by audiences across the region and that we can continue to support artists and freelancers in what’s been an incredibly difficult year for the industry.” 

After Hull’s Tier 3 status under the Government’s pandemic strictures put paid to performances at the Ferensway theatre, a partnership between Hull Truck, Hull City Council and East Riding of Yorkshire Council is bringing the Christmas show for free to Hull and East Yorkshire residents, schools, care homes and community groups.

From invitations sent with Christmas Day food parcels to online workshops and resource packs for schools, the innovative partnership aims to maximise the reach and impact of theatre while spreading festive joy.  

Every Hull and East Yorkshire household is invited to join Prince Charming from the comfort of home from this evening as he throws open the palace gates for his annual Christmas ball in Hull Truck’s festive fairytale adventure sprinkled with surprises, sparkle and a hint of magic. 

Online audiences for this uplifting shared theatrical experience are promised festive music, karaoke, unexpected guests and lashings of humour in “a ‘do’ like never before, with what is hoped to bring a dose of excitement and happiness at the end of this challenging year”. 

Here to entertain you…remotely: Director Mark Babych, front, and his Hull Truck Theatre cast for Prince Charming’s Christmas Cracker, Joanna Holden, left, Louise Willoughy, Laurie Jamieson, Rachel Dale and Amelia Donkor. Picture: Karl Andre Photography

Rehearsals under Babych’s direction were on the cusp of starting when the country went into Lockdown 2. Given the continued restrictions, uncertainty and acknowledgement of the impact art and culture has on wellbeing, Hull City Council and East Riding of Yorkshire Council stepped in, not only to ensure the show could go on, but also could be enjoyed by households across the region and beyond, “connecting families even if they’re not watching from the same sofa”. 

Janthi Mills-Ward, Hull Truck’s executive director, says: “This is the first time we’ve worked together with our two local councils to fund something like this, and we’re thrilled to be able to offer residents a magical Christmas experience. 

“Engaging in arts and culture has been found to be associated with increased wellbeing and we can’t thank East Riding of Yorkshire Council and Hull City Council enough for their support.

“We hope this innovative collaboration brings a little joy and happiness to residents, schools and care homes, with a shared experience for families and friends to enjoy together, whether as seasoned or first-time theatre-goers.” 

Councillor Stephen Brady, leader of Hull City Council, says: “It’s been a tremendously difficult year for all of us. Christmas is a special time, but sadly this year certain Christmas traditions cannot be celebrated in the usual ways.

“Going to the theatre, whether it be to see a pantomime or a retelling of one of our favourite Christmas tales, is, for many people, one of the highlights of the festive period. 

“Credit to Hull Truck for ensuring families and residents can still enjoy and experience the fun of the theatre this Christmas. Hull City Council is delighted to be able to support the performance and we wish all residents a merry Christmas and a happy New Year.” 

Councillor Richard Burton, leader of East Riding of Yorkshire Council, says: “I’m delighted we’ve been able to contribute to this exciting project, which we see as vital in engaging with all our local audiences in these challenging times. 

Council meeting: Local authority leaders, theatre directors and the pantomime cast gather outside Hull Truck Theatre: from left, Janthi Mills-Ward, Laurie Jamieson, Councillor Stephen Brady, Joanna Holden, Louise Willoughby, Rachel Dale, Councillor Richard Burton, Amelia Donkor and Mark Babych. Picture: Karl Andre

“Whether residents at home, schools, or residents in care homes, we all need the uplift that the performing arts can bring, and the connections it can make between us all. I’m really looking forward to seeing what promises to be a real cracker of a show.” 

As an interactive experience, with behind-the-scenes footage and backstage views, the streamed performance will be different to watching a film or show on TV.

Janthi says: “The streaming has been created to encapsulate those magical moments of a theatrical experience, as opposed to a film or television programme. The production will give people the opportunity to enjoy the show together, even if they’re watching in different homes.

“Whether you want to get dressed up and recreate the theatre experience at home, create a den or stay cosy on the sofa, we hope the live streaming offers a festive experience for the whole family to enjoy. 

“Theatre is a cornerstone at Christmas, so, alongside this exciting project, we’ve been working in partnership with KCOM to release four short family Christmas films in the run-up to Christmas that are set across Hull and East Riding as we continue to connect friends, families and communities through the magic of storytelling.”

Should you be unable to attend Prince Charming’s virtual ball this evening, worry not. The performance will be available for residents and care homes to watch from tomorrow (23/12/2020) to January 3, while schools and community groups will have access for the weeks beginning January 4 and January 11 2021, complemented by the accompanying resource pack.

Tickets are not required. Instead, the YouTube link will be made available on Hull Truck’s website,, and social media channels.

Ticket holders for the cancelled live performances at Hull Truck have been contacted to discuss options.