Today I ran the final Small Cinema of 2009, this time in a small school in Everton. Our guide was Tony Keating, who seemed excited to be having the event there. He was keen to help set up, as was Ray the caretaker, who cleared the space in a jiffy and then brought his power tools to help assemble the screen. Tony had prepared film posters for the event, and gladly distributed memory tickets to the staff and children. He also volunteered to be an usher, sporting a bow tie along with Mr Byrne, who fetched torches from the science department.
All in all, staff at the Primary Education Centre couldn’t have been more helpful or more positive about the event. All the staff and the children filled out memory tickets in order to attend the event and a range of memories were discovered, including some kids who had never been to the cinema. All the children attended the event, and most of the school staff, and their was an air of excitement but kids seemed well behaved. During the screening there was some noise and lots of laughter from all ages, but most talking was in reference to events happening in the films (though Charlie Chaplin was mistaken for Hitler). Popcorn was brought out at have time by the staff / ushers and the chldren stayed in their places well behaved to receive it, enjoying the sense of novelty of being served my their teachers in bow ties. I think both sides bought into the theatrics and roles of the cinema, whether they had experienced it before or not.
After the screening, lots of kids said thankyou, and the teachers invited us for a cup of tea in the staffroom , where many stories of cinema experiences were swapped. The staff felt that the afternoon had been a good treat for kids, who had behaved better than expected. Tales of trying to take the kids on cinema trips that had been stressful (“never again”) made it more apparent the possibilities offered by bringing the cinema to the school.
All in all it was a terrific way to close the project for 2009, and another new approach discovered, this time, keeping it small and in some ways a surprise, but built on string support from the community.