Using The Creative Arts to Deliver Global Messagesby Martin Hoile
Using The Creative Arts to Deliver Global Messages
Did you know that we write musicals about important global issues? Poppy The Penguin is our new musical about the climate crisis! Grumpy Sheep Music is well known to teachers in primary and early years’ schools for publishing Christmas nativities with delightful, gently humorous, twists. How many children worldwide have ‘wiggled the hump,’ as the song goes, to enthralled audiences as they perform The Very Hopeless Camel, one of Grumpy Sheep Music’s classic nativity musicals, or watched as a stroppy angel meets her come-uppance in the ever-popular Hoity-Toity Angel?
But in more recent years, Grumpy Sheep Music’s creative director, writer and children’s songwriter, Caroline Hoile, has turned her attention to writing about important global issues which she feels children need to know about, and about which she is passionate. ‘Children,’ she comments, ‘are the future. They need to be made aware of what is happening in the world. More than that they need to be empowered to take action.’ And musicals can be a powerful way in to raise that awareness, encouraging thought, classroom discussion and, most importantly, action. In performance they are also an ideal way of getting any message across to the wider school community.
Engaging musicals with important environmental, conservation and world-issue themes for primary schools have flowed from Caroline’s notepad and manuscript book, many neatly incorporating the UN’s sustainable developmental goals; The Lonely Dragon (2001) looks at the importance of water to all living creatures; Squirrels! The Musical (2015) highlights the issues of red squirrel conservation; The King Of All Polar Bears (2015) encourages respect of others’ differences in order to share our world peacefully; As Free As A Bird (2017) raises awareness of the plight of people seeking sanctuary, and Mr Toby's Dolphin (2018) applauded by Sir David Attenborough, focuses on plastic pollution in the ocean and its effect upon marine life.
But her most recent musical, to be launched appropriately on World Penguin Day, April 25, tackles the climate and environmental crisis facing us all.
Poppy The Penguin is set in the Western Peninsula of the Antarctic, an area experiencing much warming. The drama revolves around two Adelie penguins, Poppy and Percival. Percival notices that changes are happening all around him; glaciers are retreating, favourite food sources are depleting, and icebergs are shrinking, all because of the activity of humans many miles away. Much to his consternation he discovers that Poppy is a climate change denier – that is until one eventful day when her little world is turned quite upside-down. Without giving away the drama of storyline, the message that we humans are responsible for climate warming, and that our way of life has led to this environmental emergency, comes across clearly. Most importantly, the call to action to redress the balance now, by changing how we live in order to help save our natural world and its many wonderful creatures, gives hope.
Dr. Batchelder, a UN Accredited Climate Change teacher, was delighted to discover Poppy The Penguin. ‘Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) might come up with some of the solutions, but the Creative Arts are essential to communicate and spread the word of some of the serious issues we will all face in the future…..using a musical to raise [climate change] awareness is inspired…..It’s the perfect time to put the A for Arts for STEAM.’
Poppy The Penguin is timely and pertinent - especially with the forthcoming COP26. The musical is (very aptly!) available from April 25, World Penguin Day.
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