04 Aug 2014

Learning through Stories

By Lily

This is a guest blog by Adrienne Ferguson, co-founder of TreePress

Walking to BGV at Somerset House each morning has been a voyage of discovery.

First observation: London is seriously hot in the summer! Second: should I need to sit and cool down, there are a 100 brand new sculptured benches to sit on throughout the city. London is celebrating the nation’s finest stories by painting ‘Bookbenches‘, where passers by are invited to search, find and enjoy the magic of the familiar characters that make up the imaginative fabric of the UK. Sitting on the benches we feel somehow part of the adventure. Do we have what it takes to solve a crime like Sherlock and Bond, date like Bridget, and clap our hands to see if believing in fairies will allow us to join Peter in Neverland? Sitting there brings discovery, rest, wonder, reflection and at times… a little bit of magic.

At TreePress we believe that being part of storytelling is a fundamental part of learning and living, and like ‘Books about Town’ we’re inviting our users to search, find and enjoy. We’re building an online marketplace to buy and sell plays for schools. We’re trying to get more magic onto more stages for students, teachers, parents, playwrights and publishers.

It is impossible to name every book, song, game, character or piece of art that school age children love and engage with, but it is possible to name almost every single school play that is available for kids to experience and perform.  Where there is certainly a place for nostalgia when a school performs the same play as the parents and grandparents who come along to watch; is it ok that things haven’t moved on? Would it be acceptable if the kids in today’s classroom were using dusty, relic, antiquated classroom resources?There is an essential  place for the Classics, but in this digital technological age – there are so many new and exciting options out there. Why should school plays be any different?

At TreePress we’re addressing the problem faced in schools worldwide: accessing challenging and engaging scripts for young people. To do this, we’re building an online marketplace for writers to sell scripts, and for educators to buy scripts. Schools will always need school plays and there simply aren’t enough. Of those that are available the cast size and content don’t meet the changing needs of schools. There is no central platform to find, purchase or license scripts. The existing publisher model for buying scripts is broken; it’s dated, very manual and comes with a raft or complicated licensing requirements.

Playwrights are finding it increasingly hard to publish and make money from their work.  We’re giving writers the chance to market their own work making it easier for everyone in the ecosystem. We’re working alongside playwrights, teachers, schools and publishers to revolutionise the future of theatre.

If you would like to be a part of the TreePress voyage of discovery please send us a tweet, follow us on Facebook or send us an email (adrienne@treepress.org).  We’d love to engage with anyone who remembers the magic from performing or watching a school play. Teachers, publishers, playwrights, parents, performers – and anyone else who knows that storytelling can make you feel like you can fly. Let’s find a bench and chat!