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National Theatre Blog

Panto packs: how we shared activities for young people at home

As part of the broadcast of our pantomime Dick Whittington, the National Theatre's Learning team created activities to celebrate the magic and fun of pantomime with schools, communities and families across the UK over Christmas. 

Over 6,000 activity packs were downloaded or delivered in person, which were designed to inspire young people to create their own performances at home through a series of guides on how to design their own costumes, props, sets and characters.

The activity packs were free to download, and physical copies were delivered to families, venues, community centres, schools, youth theatres, childcare providers and charities across London and our six Theatre Nation Partnerships areas - Doncaster, Wakefield, Hornchurch, Greater Manchester, Sunderland and Wolverhampton. 

Dick Whittington is the second pantomime produced in the history of the National Theatre. The show had to close before its opening night following Government advice when London entered Tier 3, but fortunately the production was filmed live during its final performance in front of a socially distanced audience.

This recording was made available to stream throughout January to 400 targeted schools across our partnership areas. This allowed children of key workers and vulnerable students attending schools, and learning remotely from home to watch the production. 

Just had my entire year 7 class demand I take them to National Theatre this afternoon. They are loving the panto. It’s just an utter joy to hear their reaction. We have unmuted mics on teams this week! Whoop! Progress!
Drama Teacher at Oxclose Community Academy, Sunderland 

Thank you so much for this wonderful initiative, in once again providing us with world-class theatre to share with our students and allowing us to introduce so many to the joy of live theatre.  
Teacher at Allerton High School, Leeds 

We are now working on activities for young people to explore the production of Romeo & Juliet this Spring, a feature film produced by the National Theatre for broadcast on Sky Arts and PBS this April.  

Around 100 schools will be a sent a Romeo and Juliet box that includes sets of challenges and interactive elements. Schools will be able to create their own immersive masquerade ball masks, learn choreography from the production and make their own trailer for the film alongside video and physical resources to explore the production, and teacher training opportunities.

Activity packs give a unique insight into the creation of a production, and support curriculum learning. But perhaps more importantly, we hope that after a difficult year they help by bringing excitement back to drama and theatre-making for young people.