Local schools come together to perform Mothertongue Tales


Five local schools came together to perform Mothertongue Tales at Royal & Derngate on Sunday 28 January, as the culmination of a project devised and led by Royal & Derngate’s Arts Leaders group.

Following their Mothertongue Tales community story sharing project, our Arts Leaders, aged 13-24 years, presented this debut production, adapted from their storybook by Antonia Underwood. The play follows three young travellers fleeing persecution as they journey across the globe, collecting stories of selfish tortoises, singing mermaids, generous goats and hungry woodcutters.

Celebrating the culturally diverse communities within Northampton, the production involved a combined cast of over 70 young performers from five local schools – Malcolm Arnold Academy, Weston Favell Academy, Thorplands Primary, King’s Heath Primary and Vernon Terrace Primary – working with five professional directors.

Arts Leaders is a voluntary opportunity for young people, aged from 13 to 24, to shape arts projects and really make a difference to how their local community engages with the theatre. The group has been responsible for designing and working with professionals and community members to develop the Mothertongue Tales project, increasing their own awareness of the diverse communities within Northampton, bringing these different communities together by involving them in arts activities at the theatre, and inviting them to share stories from their own cultural heritage and how they or their families came to settle in Northampton.

Building on the universal tradition of storytelling, the group decided to create a book of those adapted tales aimed at children. The three traveller characters in the book were inspired by three incredible young men who told the Arts Leaders their own personal stories of their home in Oromia – a region of Ethiopia – and the reasons why each of them travelled across continents to seek refuge in Northampton. Following the successful launch of the book, the Arts Leaders have worked with the theatre’s Creative Learning Team to develop the Mothertongue Tales storybook into an Education Project, which culminated in the book being adapted into five short plays.

Royal & Derngate Arts Leaders

Arts Leaders is a voluntary opportunity for young people aged 13-24 to shape arts projects and really make a difference to how their local community engages with the theatre.

Our Arts Leaders projects involve members working with Royal & Derngate to research, develop, plan and deliver community action projects that will engage local people in arts activities. This is an amazing opportunity to learn how to design projects, share ideas and collaborate with professionals on creating events that highlight how the arts are for everyone. Great for your CV, arts experience and will contribute towards gaining an Arts Award qualification.

The Arts Leaders were recently nominated for The Mighty Creatives Partnership Working Award for their Mothertongue Tales Act4Change story book project and the group aims to develop this project further over the coming months.

If you are 13-24 years old and interested in becoming an Arts Leader, contact [email protected] or click here to out more.