In January a call was put out to writers across the world through Commonwealth Writers for a new script for a puppet show to be used in an exciting collaboration between the Young People’s Puppet Theatre, the Commonwealth Resounds, the Purcell School for Young Musicians, and the Commonwealth Blue Charter.
Submissions were received from writers in countries including Nigeria, Pakistan, Kenya, Malta, South Africa, India and the UK. Much of the writing was very engaging, telling compelling stories about the challenges the world faces in keeping the oceans healthy. Choosing the best amongst them was difficult but the jury is delighted to announce that the winner is Preeti Sharma, a secondary school teacher in Delhi. Her storyline focuses on the degradation of coral reefs caused by poachers who supply the jewelry trade. She will now be working with a mentor to develop her script for use in the project. In parallel the music will be composed by students from the Purcell School who will also create the puppets and sets. The rehearsals in September will followed by performances in and around London.
Because of the excellence of so many of the submissions, the jury decided to name two runners-up. They are Taryn Butler a freelance writer based in Malta, and Deborah Nash a writer from the UK. Taryn chose as her theme the general challenge of getting young people to recognize the link between their lifestyles and the state of the oceans, whereas Deborah chose to write on the way coral reefs are damaged by ignorance and by pollution. Once completed those scripts will be incorporated into the Young People’s Puppet Theatre script library for use by schools on future projects.
The intention in commissioning these scripts and in getting students to build new puppetry productions is to create in the students a greater awareness of challenges facing the oceans while at the same time bringing to the students the benefits which a YPPT production confers. Those range from creativity and performance skills to a wide variety of social development skills such as collaboration, self-confidence and resilience.
Preeti Sharma is a history teacher at the DAV secondary school in Delhi. She enjoys writing poetry and stories with a messageand has collaborated previously with the British Council. She has a particular interest in the development of 21st century skills among students, revival of heritage (puppetry), cross-cultural understanding and celebration of the collaborative spirit of the commonwealth of nations.
Taryn Butler lives in Malta. Her background is in performance but after raising a family she returned to education and achieved an honours degree in Politics, Philosophy and Economics, and more recently an MA in screenplay writing. She enjoys writing on how the changing climate is affecting our environment and economiesand fostering an understanding of the relationship between lifestyle and the state of the planet.
Deborah Nash lives in London. She has worked as a community artist in schools, theatres and at festivals, while also writing for BBC Schools Radio. More recently she has worked as a freelance copy editor and writer for Egmont UK as well as writing picture books for Frances Lincoln and readers for Pearson and OUP. She has also produced immersive theatre shows and stage productions.