Over 7 days of workshops at Speke Hall, Year 6 pupils from primary schools across South Liverpool will create a performance piece with acclaimed percussive guitar trio Ex-Easter Island Head, exploring stories from Liverpool’s past, and how those stories are connected to our lives today.
Built by the devout Catholic Norris family – keen to impress visitors with the grandeur of their home and in particular the magnificent Great Hall – Speke Hall has witnessed more than 400 years of turbulent history. From the Tudor period when a secret priest hole was an essential feature, to years of neglect and decay in the 18th and 19th centuries (including a spell when it was used as a cow shed) and then being dragged into the Victorian era of improvement and technology, the Hall has seen it all.
The project also includes a unique trip to Liverpool Central Library and Record Office, for a behind-the-scenes tour, and exciting activities from some of the archivists who look after Liverpool’s many tales, for future generations. While there, participating children will be able to explore the stories they have uncovered at Speke Hall, and, at the end of the 7 days, they will perform their piece alongside Ex-Easter Island Head: once at Speke Hall, and again at Liverpool Central Library.
Ex-Easter’s work is richly textural and will complement the stoic Speke Hall, situated between the crashing water of the River Mersey and the engine noise of John Lennon Airport. Their work is also playful and accessible, and their malletting style presents a challenging but exciting new world of possibilities for participating children.
The project is designed to build confidence and social skills as pupils transition to secondary education. Through music and arts workshops, the group will engage with cross-curricular subject matter, including literacy and history. By the project’s end, they will have created and performed a piece that is truly theirs, alongside some of the UK’s finest professional artists.
Some examples of workshops that the children will participate in include:
– Musical activities: designing and building instruments using household materials (e.g. wooden crates, funnels, hose pipe); writing graphic scores; experimenting with electronic music (e.g. recording and manipulating found sounds).
– Performance activities: exploring stories using theatre exercises (e.g. freeze frames, hot seating).
– Literacy activities: treasure hunts with riddles and clues to find stories hidden in and around the workshop location; personal diaries to record thoughts and ideas, with some structured questions to encourage reflection and writing practice.
– Cross-curricular activities: after learning about societal changes over the last 500 years, the children can consolidate facts and information learned by responding artistically, and telling their own stories about life in 21st century Liverpool.