219 youngsters explore amazing Tin Forest at Illogan School

Illogan School was transformed into an amazing Tin Forest with exotic trees and flowers, tree frogs, toucans and tigers– thanks to a partnership between the school and Hall For Cornwall. 

A chance meeting between Headteacher Jo Knuckey and HFC’s Arts Development Director Helen Tiplady led to all 219 pupils being involved in a very special play with a strong 
environmental message based on author Helen Ward’s bestselling children’s book The Tin 
Forest. 

The book tells the story of an old man living in a small house in the middle of nowhere 
surrounded by mountains of rubbish thrown away by people who can’t be bothered to recycle. At night, he dreams of a place with brightly coloured flowers, birds and animals. Waking one morning he decides to create a forest of metal trees and plants from the rubbish lying all around him. This is then transformed into a beautiful place with real trees, flowers and 
animals following an initial visit from a toucan that drops seeds from its beak onto the ground. 

“Earlier this year the children took part in a single-use plastic free day which really captured their imaginations and got them thinking about waste and the importance of recycling “ said Jo Knuckey. I wanted to build on this enthusiasm and so decided to use an environmental theme for our end of term performance. The clear message contained in this book made it a perfect choice”. 

This is Jo’s first year as Headteacher and she wanted to ensure that all the pupils had the 
opportunity to be involved in the end of year performance. “With more than 200 children in the school this was an ambitious aim and I was delighted when I met Helen and she agreed to come on board with some of the HFC staff to help us pull it all 
together.” 

“The result has been an incredible experience which has supported staff to create our first ever whole school performance piece and has brought out the confidence of the children, some of whom were nervous at the beginning but were loving every minute by the time of the first performance. “ 

“This project has given the children of Illogan school memories that will last a life-time”. 

As well as running a number of youth companies for young actors and dancers, Hall For 
Cornwall’s Arts Development team also work with schools and community groups on a range of amazing dance and drama projects. 

Arts Development Director Helen Tiplady leapt at the opportunity to work with an entire school and, with financial support from the Chartered Accountants’ Livery Charity, worked with colleagues Kim Healy, Sean Sweeney, Richard Healey and Simon Harvey, artists 
Alessandra Ausenda, Amanda Lorens and Keith Sparrow and enthusiastic staff and pupils from Illogan School to bring the book to life. Also helping out was Myah Smith, a Year 10 student from Launceston College who was on a work experience placement with Hall For Cornwall. 

Waste company Biffa and parents provided the school with a selection of waste materials to create their imaginary Tin Forest, with making company In the Bellows, which provided 
puppets for the recent successful London production of Benjamin Button, creating a puppet of the Old Man character . 

Following five days of writing scripts, learning lines, composing special music and intensive rehearsals, and many hours spent creating props and covering walls with tin foil and old 
newspapers from the Scrapstore, the cast proudly performed their special play in front of an enthralled audience of over 300 people from the local community. 

Described as a promenade piece, the play saw the cast walk the audience through the whole school building – from the mock rubbish dump at the entrance where children carelessly threw rubbish on the ground; through the main hall transformed into a forest with tin foil, to the four classroom installations depicting the rubbish room, the recycling machine, the sifting and 
sorting room and the dream room, back to the main hall – the “heart” where the tin forest is transformed into a real forest with colourful trees, flowers and animals and then outside to the old Man’s house which was set in the beautiful meadow at Illogan School. 

“This has been a fantastic project to work on “said Helen Tiplady. “From the Year 5 
pupils who wrote the script and the Year 6 pupils who acted as narrators, to the 
children who brought the story to life with their energy and enthusiasm and the teaching staff who helped make the props - everyone has worked so hard at the same time as having fun“. 

One of the youngsters involved in the production was Year 5 pupil Cadan who had speaking parts as well as writing one of the music tracks played in one of the classroom installations. Speaking before the first performance he admitted he was feeling a little nervous but was very excited about his Mum and Dad watching him perform. “I have felt a bit of pressure” he said “but am really looking forward to taking part”. 

Audience members were full of praise for the performance of all the children taking part and welcomed the play’s strong environmental message. 

Gabriel Chavigny de Lachevrotiere, the proud Dad of Year 6 pupil Sophia, said “I am very proud of Sophia and all the children who have taken part. It is great to see the whole school get involved. It is also good that the younger generation are being 
taught about pollution, global warming and climate in this way. If our generation had been taught these messages then we would not be in the position we are in 
today. 

Laura Buffery -Martin, mum of Year 1 pupil Rufus also thoroughly enjoyed the performance. “I was blown away “she said. “The whole thing was amazing and I felt very 
emotional “. 

Helen Tiplady is delighted with the success of the Illogan School project and is looking 
forward to working with other schools across Cornwall to help them deliver immersive work which supports their curriculum development. 

“Research shows that creative arts play an important role in helping children 
express themselves and develop their confidence, “she said. “They can also help schools deliver key areas of the curriculum by bringing complex subjects to life in a way which interests and engages pupils.” 

For further information about the work of Hall For Cornwall’s Arts Development team please contact [email protected]