Theatre group educates kids from the stage

Yvonne and Bobby Moore of Engross Theatre Company with Saltersgate Headteacher Stephen Buggy (pictured right). 12 years ago The Moores put on a play to help their son's school project on World War 2 and now they return with their theatre company to put on a play at the school.
Yvonne and Bobby Moore of Engross Theatre Company with Saltersgate Headteacher Stephen Buggy (pictured right). 12 years ago The Moores put on a play to help their son's school project on World War 2 and now they return with their theatre company to put on a play at the school.

A husband and wife from Penicuik who run their own theatre company have returned to the scene of their first performance back in 2006.

Professional actors Yvonne and Bobby Moore set-up the Engross Theatre Group in 2009, working in special schools and units in Edinburgh and the Lothians since.

Actors Ian Sheepie Smith, who plays Ben, and Fraser MacRae who plays Gongo the friendly alien

Actors Ian Sheepie Smith, who plays Ben, and Fraser MacRae who plays Gongo the friendly alien

This came three years after Saltersgate School in Dalkeith gave them the idea to educate children from the stage.

Yvonne said: “I was inspired by me son, Douglas Briglmen, who is now 28. He has autism and went to Saltersgate School. In 2006 his teacher sent notes home asking if we had any information about life on the home front that the school could use.

“I said to my husband ‘why don’t we do a play?’ We have been involved in theatre for a long time you see.

“So we did a wee 20 minute play for Douglas’s class in which I was the man and my husband was a wee boy in short trousers and a cap.

“It was performed in a light hearted way. It was all fun and slapstick. The kids absolutely loved it.

“Then every time we were in the teachers said we have to do this more as there is no better way for the kids to learn.

“So I did two years research and then took a film of the play around schools in the Lothians. And they said ‘yes, that would do for our pupils’.

“We got our charity status and it has been very successful since. We have had tremendous actors work with us.”

Yvonne believes there is a real need for her theatre group:“There isn’t a group that consciously creates theatre for an audience with autism and learning difficulties. We hire professional actors, while we create and direct the plays.

“All our works are performed in a very comical and interactive way.

“We tailor our work specifically towards people with autism and learning difficulties. I know how to do that because of Douglas.”

Earlier this month the couple returned to Saltersgate to perform a showpiece play, called Gongo Learn The Rules to staff and pupils.

Yvonne said of the performance: “It was fantastic. The kids had a ball. It was really good.

“This was our first performance back at Saltersgate since that original performance 12 years ago. We have been to all the schools in Edinburgh so we wanted to bring it to Midlothian.

“We were invited to do a showcase and invited other schools in Midlothian to attend. We handed out evaluation forms and the responses were very positive.

“Andrew Sheridan, manager of ASN schools in Midlothian, said schools could add us into their annual budget.

“It’s just a case of waiting to hear now. But from the reaction at the show I would hope that we get booked.

“I’m passionate about it. We have been very successful in sourcing funding since 2010 so we can provide this at no cost to the schools. But in the past year or two it has been harder to source funding.

“It’s the same everywhere.

“That’s why Andrew Sheridan said the schools could work us into their budgets, hence the showpiece play.”