Spinning a Yarn extra yarn R&D, May 2017

It started with a book...

Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Jon Klassen

...about a girl, a black and white town and a magic box of yarn. Only the town in the book didn't look like the towns round our way. And we thought if we're going to make a play about this book really we'd like the town in the play to look like the towns we know.

So we asked some 8 & 9 year olds to help us look again at a town we know. We gave them some cameras and we went for a walk...

And this is what we saw...

We asked them what they thought about the book. And this is what they said...

"The little girl is trying to bring people together so that they're happy. Through the box of yarn she makes people mean more to each other than normal"
"It's nice to be connected to people but sometimes you can be too connected and it can get a bit much"
"I think the magic box chose the little girl because it knows she'll do something with it."

We asked some of their parents what they thought about the book and about us wanting to make a play of it to perform in schools for families. And this is what they said...

"I think it's a lovely book. It says it doesn't matter who you are or how much money you've got or what background you come come or what job you do you're all connected by this yarn which is... well it's love, really."
"It's about self-belief."
"I think doing it at school for families is a brilliant idea. If the parents see that the kids enjoy it then it makes the parents want to get involved with it."

...which gave us lots of ideas about how to develop our play. But we still had one big question to answer. The little girl in the book changes her town from black and white to colour by knitting jumpers for all the buildings.

Illustration by Jon Klassen

We told the children we didn't yet know how we were going to make that magic happen on stage but that we had a few ideas. We asked them if they'd help us try out one of these ideas and, very kindly, they said yes.

So the next time we went to their school we took our friends Rob and Matt from Illuminos with us and together we started colouring in some buildings that looked a bit more like the buildings in this town that we all knew.

And we took photos of these buildings as they became more and more colourful.

Then we put those photos onto a computer and, with some help from our friends, we made those photos into animations.

Then, all together, we watched them. And we invited parents to come and watch them too.

And as we watched the colours dance and move across this town we had created one girl said "It's like magic!" And we thought, we think so too.

Spinning a Yarn was carried out as research and development for Extra Yarn, a Filament project funded by Staffordshire County Council Community Arts Fund with support from Appetite. For more information about the project and Filament's work visit www.wearefilament.co.uk

Credits:

Created with images by RASAROCKS - "WOOL"

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