Festival to bring Welsh history alive to over 20,000 children
A festival aimed at teaching Wales’ children about the nation’s history will launch tomorrow at heritage sites all over the country.
Over 100 shows will be held at heritage sites from St Fagans National Museum of History to Nefyn Maritime Museum, and from Pontcysyllte to Strata Florida.
20,000 children will have taken part in the Children’s Festival of Welsh History by the end of the month.
The festival aims to encourage schools and the general public to learn about important characters from the nation’s past, to discover sites and buildings of interest, and to celebrate Wales rich history and heritage.
2019 sees the festival’s fifth anniversary, with professional actors taking on the roles of characters such as Owain Glyndŵr; Boudicca; Lord Rhys; Llywelyn the Great; Thomas Telford and David Davies Llandinam.
Eleri Twynog, Festival Director, initiated the festival in September 2015 as a means of fulfilling her dream of presenting Welsh history “with fun and excitement”.
“Like many people, I realised that I was taught about the history of English Kings and Queens, after doing A Level History, but, to my shame, very little about the men and women who formed Wales,” she says.
“I wanted to redress that and ensure that our younger generations are aware and interested in the fascinating characters who make up our own history and have made their mark on the nation and, in many cases, the world.”
She added that the shows and visits to heritage sites will support a number of the recommendations set out by Welsh Government for the new curriculum.
From September, schools can adopt elements of the new curriculum, with a Welsh Government expectation that all schools will be teaching it fully by 2021.
The new Welsh Government curriculum emphasises the importance of extending and promoting “experiential learning” as a way of igniting interest, stimulating passions and increasing the confidence of children and young people.
Schools are encouraged to explore culture through learning experiences beyond the classroom. The report highlights the importance of partnerships beyond the school gate to reach this goal.
“Creating fruitful partnerships beyond the school gates is precisely what the festival is all about,” says Eleri, a former head of marketing and events at S4C, “and over the last five years we have successfully developed great partnerships with heritage agencies such as Cadw; the National Trust; National Museum of Wales; Snowdonia National Park and other independent providers.
“The shows offer a unique interpretation of history and give pupils the chance to interact with their heritage. The combination of facts and play, imagination and reasoning are crucial, brought to life by talented performers with scripts that are of full of interest and appropriate to the target age group.
“The fact that they are performed at exquisite sites the like Rhuddlan, Cyfartha and Powis Castles adds an extra dimension and allows even further opportunities for children and young people to engage with their history.”
A new show for the 2019 festival features a mariner from Nefyn, who sailed his schooner from Swansea harbour to Amlwch, carrying copper, during the Industrial revolution.
Eliseus Evans – Who wants to go to sea? will be performed at the Waterfront Museum, Lleyn Maritime Museum and Caernarfon docks.
Literature will also be featured at this years’ festival, with Kate, a show for Secondary Schools, based on the life of Welsh language author Kate Roberts, being performed at Yr Ysgwrn – the former home of WW1 poet Hedd Wyn.
Other shows featured at this years’ festival include – Lord Rhys – Saviour of the Deheubarth; Harry Lute – The Story of Llywelyn the Great; Owain Glyndŵr – The Rebel Prince of Wales; Glenys the Shop – Living through the Blitz; Boudicca – The Warrior Queen; Thomas Telford – Discovering Pontcysyllte and David Davies Llandinam – Wales’ First Tycoon.
Heritage sites featured in the 2019 festival include Rhuddlan Castle; Caernarfon docks; Lleyn Maritime Museum; Powis Castle; Owain Glyndŵr Centre, Machynlleth; St Ffagans Museum of Welsh Life; Cyfartha Castle; Yr Ysgwrn; Strata Florida; Insole Court and the Waterfront Museum.
Full information can be seen on the festival’s website.