‘Mr Shapeshifter’ is GW’s current flagship project – an exciting modern fairy tale for 9 – 11 year olds about the way some adults abuse the trust of children and how children can work together and with trusted adults to protect themselves. This ingenious interactive theatre production makes a significant contribution to keeping young children safe from child sex abuse without directly mentioning the subject at all. It continues to tour nationally to primary schools and is supported by learning resources and magical animated and book versions of the story. This project demonstrates how GW is able to transcend the challenges of tackling the most difficult issues to produce pure exhilarating theatre which resonates powerfully and makes a real difference.
The play is aimed at year 6 children. It’s purpose is to entertain, inform, and safeguard children against risk and danger in real life and online and to provide a catalyst for further work by teachers and other adults with the children who see it. It is not meant to stand alone: preparation before the play and follow work is essential. The play is specifically designed to educate and empower children, but could also be used to raise awareness with parents, carers, families in the wider community.
Mister Shapeshifter is a super villain. He can change his appearance at will. He has one aim in life: to lure children into his ‘Super Story World Studio Workshop’ and steal the childhood out of them so he can live forever. When he lures eleven year old Jess there, only Jack can save her. But Jack is one of Mister Shapeshifter’s previous victims, and as a result is bullied and lonely and angry. To save Jess, Jack has first to save himself and then bring The Shapeshifter to justice, with the help of Jess, the audience, his teacher and the police.
For full information on the project visit http://www.mrshapeshifter.com
“This is a really important project…resources like Mr Shapeshifter can really help to create conditions in which children feel secure enough to tell someone they trust if they are being abused”
Anne Longfield – Children’s Commissioner for England
Here’s what schools have been saying about the play….
‘I think it was very well done. I understand that it is an incredibly difficult subject to get across to children. It is a fine balance between scaring them senseless and not getting any message across. The theatre company managed this perfectly’
Castleton Primary [Parent and Chair of Governors], Rochdale
‘The play had a positive impact on the staff and the children. It was valuable for the children to take part in the play and help advise the characters how they could solve problems/issues related to today and their future. Hot-seating was a super opportunity for the children to ask some very thoughtful questions. They really enjoyed the production it made them laugh, think and reflect on some challenging issues that should be given more priority and time in school. Highlights were the simplicity and power of the performance’
Alexandra Park Primary, Oldham
‘Led to good discussion in the classroom. The children said they’d be much more confident about telling somebody about any issues that arose. Very mature responses. It showed us how abuse can change how a child acts. Made us think and understand more’
Moorhouse Primary, Rochdale
‘The children responded positively it really made them think and consider the actions that they take. There was a point when the play became quite ‘dark’ but the script and the actors were able to use this feeling to emphasis the central message about ‘if it feels wrong and weird…’ The contrast of light and dark within the play – the pace and characterisations were very appropriate. The script dealt with a difficult subject well. I think it was good that the children completed preparation work in advance and then the post play survey. This meant the children did not just see the play an entertainment. The hot seating supported this too’
Airedale Primary, Wakefield
‘The play had a very important message. Following the performance, the children shared that they had a very positive experience and really enjoyed the show – they found Mister Shapeshifter quite creepy and in a way that made them feel uncomfortable. They went on to discuss that this may be the feelings they would feel if someone was asking them to do something they did not want to’
Ridgeway Primary, South Tyneside.
‘The play had exactly the required impact on the children. There were lots of thoughtful comments and questions raised from the children during our post play discussion. They thoroughly understood the message of the play and talked in-depth about the ‘tools’ they have in their power to protect themselves. Two days later, a girl in my class saw another girl crying in the playground. As she was about to go and check on her, another girl (quite aggressively) ordered her not to go over to the girl who was upset. When I spoke to her later, she said that ‘it had not felt right to be ordered about. She knew the girl who was upset would need her support. She felt that, like in the play, she should listen to herself, and what she felt was right.’ As a result, she refused to be told what to and went over to check on the girl. She said she felt better for trusting herself and having not allowed someone to order her about’
Lower Place Primary, Rochdale