The best way to learn is through stories.  And the stories from Licketyspit's participative theatre venture have captured the imaginations and entered the play of early years children and their parents/carers in dramatic style…

Licketyspit specialises in theatre for early-years children based on child consultation. Our unique theatre company focuses on ideas which excite and engage both the artists and the children involved. There is a strong affinity between actors and children. Both are expert at play. At root, a piece of theatre is just a way of telling a story. It is a generous exchange between the people giving the story and the people receiving it. So, when children come to see a Licketyspit show, we want them to know that the story is happening in the moment, in the room for them, and that they are an essential element of it.

For over ten years, Licketyspit has nurtured and taken inspiration from speaking and listening to audiences through face-to-face discussions after shows, feedback forms and website contact. We have learned that Licketyspit shows live long after the performances. 'Molly Whuppie's bridge of the one hair' became the line in the playground; the sofa became the 'green whale'; children brushed their teeth 'up like the tortoise and down like the hare' and families still ate 'magic spaghetti' for tea five years after seeing the show.

Children's theatre experiences are replayed, re-invented and shared as they become absorbed into family culture. In our drama workshops, children wanted to play and imagine with us. They clearly wanted to be in the play! So I wondered if we could create a show that our audiences could literally be in, where they could make a meaningful contribution in a context where we, as a theatre company, could bring something new to their play.

LicketyLeap is the result!  This is a 90-minute piece of participative theatre for ten early-years children and two teachers. Two Licketyspit actor/pedagogues lead and run it in schools and community/arts venues.  It is part of a wider programme, which also involves parents who are invited to share their child's experience, through a film and demonstration and which show the benefit of this work for early brain development. 787 children took part and 707 parents/carers attended a LicketyLeap session in its first year of Inspiring Scotland funding.

Teachers' evaluations of 283 children from 17 nurseries suggest that LicketyLeap has had a significant impact. 62-72% of children showed improvement across four outcomes: confidence, social skills, problem solving, and emotional literacy and resilience. Teachers and families are surprised and delighted at the children's enthusiasm. Nurseries reported profound changes in individual children and in social dynamics in the nursery, such as more inclusive child-led play.

In LicketyLeap, the characters - Margaret and Margaret - enable the children to show how brilliant they can be, witnessed by their peers, teachers and families. Margaret and Margaret begin a dialogue with the LicketyLeap children and families, which aims to stoke their imaginative play, after they leave the theatre, and open further metaphorical doors to lead them, as the Margarets do, 'through the bog, over the sea, into the cave and up to the top of the mountain to find their hearts' desires!'

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