History lessons can get a bad rap for being boring but primary school children in the North West are soon to find out that learning about the past can be fun when it’s done through playing street games.
Adults with learning disabilities who are all members of Stage Beyond theatre company are taking the lead in the combined theatre and education workshops after playing the games with visitors to Derry’s historic City Walls as part of the Walls 400 summer programme.
The company, based in the Millennium Forum in Derry, has 38 members. Artistic manager, Dee Conaghan, said they were bowled over by the response from tourists with many saying they had never experienced anything like it.
Dee said: “One American woman told me she has a niece with Down Syndrome who wouldn’t get the same opportunities and it was lovely to see our young people, while another Italian visitor said sometimes people with learning disabilities are not seen.
The games featured in the project include ‘Lundy’s Stew’ named after the famous traitor of the city with participants swapping seats while assigned stew ingredients from the Siege of Derry whilst another game entitled ‘Doctor, Doctor’ from the Victorian era has the doctor assigned to cure players of a deadly whooping cough!
Dee said: “Street games are a tradition that has passed from generation to generation.
"Almost by osmosis each child seems to know the rules, the conventions, the dos and especially the don’ts.
“We were out on the Walls over the summer and played the games with people from America, Australia, Germany, Holland, Israel, England and Republic of Ireland and a few local youth groups too”
GAME 1 – Walls and Gates – the Plantation of Ulster
GAME 2 – Lundy’s Stew – the Siege of Derry
GAME 3 – Doctor, Doctor – Victorian era
GAME 4 – Danger UXB – WWII
A full programme of events is taking place to mark Walls 400 – Ireland’s last remaining fully intact Walled City which is also one of the finest examples of its kind in Europe.
For more information visit www.walledcity400.com