Our pioneering EARLY STAGERS workshops were first developed by Playbox’s Founding Director, Mary King, in 1987! They are perfect theatre adventures for preschool children and explore a wealth of wonderful, inspiring techniques, covering a range of topics, and truly enhance children’s confidence and imagination. This springboard is a powerful experience to bring out the best in your child, before they head to school.

What are the workshops about?

Every week, Early Stagers will take a story as a springboard for adventures. Each week it is something different! The story that has been chosen will inspire all of the activities that take place within the session. The central theme could be anything…from fairytales, to space, to undersea adventures, to dragon hunting! The exercises all relate to one another and gradually develop the theme during the course of the workshop, which is then consolidated by everyone sharing the story towards the end of the session.

What sort of activities will my child be doing in Early Stagers?

These will vary from week to week. Broadly, the approaches that are incorporated into Early Stagers include MIME, MOVEMENT, ROLE PLAY, VOICE, SONG, STORYTELLING, CRAFT & GROUP DISCUSSION. Each workshop begins with a ‘Newstime’ sharing, before introductory songs and warm up activities lead us into the heart of the workshop, which is likely to include role play and improvised adventures.

How will I know what my child has been getting up to in the workshop?

Communicating with our parents is very important! Each week, a blackboard or a poster will be placed outside the workshop studio and this will briefly tell you what your child will be getting up to in their session that day. The directors are always happy to chat after workshop (unless they have to go straight into another one!). You are always welcome to arrange to come and meet with your child’s workshop director, and we have regular ‘Member’ evenings where everyone has the chance to speak to the team about the content of workshops and the opportunities available to you and your child.

Who are the staff running Early Stagers?

Playbox Theatre’s directors all come to us with a wealth of experience in both the arts and education sectors. Everyone has lots of experience with working with children of the appropriate age for the workshop. Our directors are professional arts practitioners and are devoted to developing the lives of children and young people using the arts as a springboard. Early Stagers will be led by one director, with one senior assistant to support the children at all times. All of our staff are DBS checked to an enhanced level.

How many children are in an Early Stagers workshop?

We take a capacity of 15 children in Early Stagers, so that every child gets plenty of individual attention.

What should my child wear to their workshop?

Children need to be comfy at Early Stagers as the workshops are very physical! Anything practical that they can move freely in is fine. We don’t have a uniform, but lots of our members enjoy wearing Playbox t-shirts or sweatshirts and these can be ordered at any time from our Shop.

Are parents allowed to stay in the workshop?

No – the aim of all of our workshops is to ensure that children develop in confidence and ability as swiftly as possible, in a secure and supportive environment. This happens much more effectively when children are free to interact with our directors and with one another, without the involvement, or distraction, of a parent being in the room. Playbox workshops at all ages are spaces for young people to engage completely independent of adults, and this is the case for our preschool workshops too. Of course, the most important thing is for a child to be happy, so our directors will discuss the approach with you and, if you need to stay with your child for a while, until they are ready to be left, then this is perfectly possible. We do ask any adult staying in the space to fully participate in the workshop, as this really helps the group to feel that the work is legitimised…and they don’t have someone to keep running back to! If you are looking for an event that you and your child can take part in together, then ‘Magic Carpet’ storytelling each week offers this opportunity.

My child is very shy – will this workshop be right for them?

Most definitely! One of the main reasons children initially join Playbox Theatre is to help with confidence and self-esteem. Within Early Stagers, we will support your child’s development with carefully structured workshops that will see them gaining in confidence across all situations. You will often see a very rapid improvement in your child’s confidence and this is feedback that we receive over and over again. Our directors are incredibly experienced and perfectly placed to bring out the best in every child that they work with.

Do the children perform at the end of a season?

Early Stagers is not a performance-based programme. The workshops are devoted to engaging children, using arts approaches, for the time that they are in the space with us. During this time, there is no pressure to work towards a final ‘result’, but is a joyful, energetic and focussed theatre experience. Occasionally, parents are invited to come and take part in an Open Workshop where everyone can share together, or there might be a very informal moment at the end of a season, when parents pop in to see what the children have been getting up to, but performance work begins when they are a little older, and if they are keen to go down this route.

I’m not really interested in my child becoming an ‘actor’ – is this workshop still suitable for them?

Absolutely! Children come to Playbox Theatre for many different reasons. Some are looking to make new friends, others are keen to train for a career in the arts, some simply love the type of activities we explore and want to gain in confidence and the ability to articulate, collaborate and benefit from the vast array of techniques Playbox uses within each workshop. The skills, discussions and approaches a child will engage with during their Playbox journey can become an important factor in a successful, happy, articulate and confident future – both at school and in their eventual career.

My child would love to perform – will they have the chance at this age?

At this age, Playbox’s work focusses on developing the confidence, imagination and self-esteem of each child…whilst introducing them to a range of theatre techniques. When they are of a school age, limited performance opportunities become available, and these increase as the child gets older.

Is it possible to come along to a trial session before we commit to the group?

We offer a two-week trial period for new members. Membership fees must be paid in advance of attending but if, after the first two weeks of attending, the child finds the workshop is not for them, we are able to offer a refund of fees minus a £20 admin charge. Our trial policy endeavours to discourage dipping in and out throughout the season, which can be very disruptive for regular members. Alternatively, we regularly run holiday workshops for children of this age, and these are open to both members and non-members of Playbox. Holiday Workshops are a great way to test the water with our company! We also have regular New Member evenings which are great for people who are thinking of joining and give your family the chance to come and meet with the team and answer all of your questions. Details of New Member evenings are always on our website.

How much does it cost to join Early Stagers?

Fees are currently £115 per season – our seasons run in conjunction with the school term and each season is between 10-12 weeks, depending upon the school holiday dates. Fees are payable in advance through our membership department. If, after 2 weeks, your child really doesn’t want to stay with the company, you are eligible for a refund, minus £20 admin fee and contribution towards the workshops that have been attended. Refunds must be requested in writing within the first three weeks of membership and sent to membership@playboxtheatre.com.

I’d love my child to become a member…what happens now?

We can’t wait to welcome your family to Playbox Theatre! Please apply online. Some of our workshops have waiting lists, so if you can give us a couple of options, this would be really helpful. We will offer you a space as quickly as possible!

What happens when my child goes to school? Do they have to go back onto a waiting list?

No – once someone is a member of Playbox Theatre, they can stay until they grow up! When children move to school, they are automatically offered a place in ‘The Apple Club’, which is the next step up…continuing the great foundation work that has been achieved in Early Stagers. We run a number of Apple Clubs across the region, on different days and at different times. We will ask you to give us your first and second preference and will always try to offer your child a place in the group of their choice. All of this happens in the summer season, before the holidays.

For any other questions, please email info@playboxtheatre.com