The teachers and pupils involved in the Building a City of Literature project began by exploring some of the resources which have been developed as part of CRACL’s long-standing research partnership with community arts company Excavate. These include the scripts of two community plays, written by local playwright Andy Barrett.


The first play, Road to Bilborough , is a spy story about the friends and neighbours who migrated into a local council estate in the 1950s.


The second, A Lifetime Guarantee, was a play which resulted from a project which examined the history of the site of Nottingham’s former Raleigh factory (now the University of Nottingham Jubilee Campus).


Performed by a community cast, both plays toured local venues to sell-out audiences. Both were based on the oral histories of those who lived and worked in the places they are about. The oral histories generated as part of the Raleigh project have been archived on the I Worked at Raleigh website, which offers further material for pupils and teachers to explore.

If this has encouraged you to have a go at a place-based project in your own schools and communities, you can find support and advice from our teachers and pupils here too.

Questions to get you started

When writing your own script it can be useful to think about the relationship between stories and place. Ask your students to think about some of the places they know and their history with that place. To get you started writing your own scripts we have outlined some key questions that we feel are central to thinking productively about the relationship between places and stories

  • An existing group, such as an after school club?
  • With a whole class as a scheme of work?
  • Inviting pupils to participate, perhaps focusing on a specific group who you feel would benefit
  • An invitation to a year group?
  • Identify a focus. interesting places
  • What kinds of places that might come up?
  • Local landmarks
  • Urban legends
  • Places where people hang out
  • Don’t just go for the first idea
  • Use a variety of stimulus
  • How/ Why
  • Things to think about
  • Who to approach/ places to consider
    • Community groups
    • Local history groups (growing)
    • Family members
    • Long-serving staff at the school (not just teachers!) perhaps Alumni?
  • Ideas
  • Things to think about
  • Rescources

Ways in to Story and Place

Sometimes a story based on a particular place is easy to find and then script. At other times it might need to be worked at. Here are some suggestions based on a local story – that of floods

Student Task

30 seconds to create a frozen picture that tells a story based on these headlines

Or this picture

Other ways to explore local stories can involve realia (real things) such as a letter from the council –

The letter from the corporation – although this is fabricated there are plenty of authentic letters which can be used by students to support ideas of space and place

The Corporation of Wales

Corporation Street



Your ref – 015367/B7

Dear Householder

As you are aware your property is in an area that has been flooded many times.

Despite attempts to improve the situation the Corporation has been unable to improve the flood defenses.

As a result of which you are formally requested to leave your home by 9:00 am tomorrow morning.

You will be collected on a Corporation bus and taken to emergency accommodation. Due to space restrictions you will be allowed to take with you one suitcase and one small item of carry on luggage.

What you choose to bring is your choice. Basic foodstuffs will be provided.

I understand that there might be some in our community who may be troubled by the contents of this letter, in which case you are urged to attend the meeting at 8:30 pm this evening in the Community Centre.


Brian Spicer

You can use ‘melting freeze frames’ to go through a series of reactions as parts of a story begin to be explored –

Student Task

A letter arrives on your door step –


You open it (frame 1)


It tells you that you will have to leave your house in the morning (frame 2)


It tells you there is a meeting tonight (frame 3)


This can then lead in to a role play based upon a particular local issue or event

For some local stories there will be the opportunity to role play reactions to it, as in the example below –

Student Task in groups of 2/3/4

You are a family

Decide your roles

Roleplay your reaction to the letter

This could then allow the following ways in to a particular local story –

Hot seat the head of the corporation


Role play a family’s reaction


Teacher in role as the leader of the forum


What would you take in your suitcase?


For some students the act of creating a response to a story and rescripting the story from within it is easy. For others it is more difficult

Here are some suggestions for inclusion of other students

Thought Tracking

In pairs

One student silently reads the flood letter

Their partner speaks their thoughts

Line of Opinion

Across the room from “Not Very” to “Very” students stand in a line in response to the question “How concerned are you about flooding in the area?”

Good/ Bad Angel

A character with a dilemma (eg – do I stay in my house?) has two voices trying to persuade them what to do

Conscience Alley

A character with a dilemma (do I stay in my house) walks through two lines of students who give them advice (with reasoning) for what they should do

Voice in the head

Could be spoken / written. A character states what decision they have come to and why

Forum Theatre

Two students in a circle (eg Corporation leader and a resident) engage in dialogue. Other students are stood around in a circle. If they see an opportunity to develop the dialogue they clap, the two actors freeze, the Clapper steps in, taps one on the shoulder (who returns to the circle) and the Clapper resumes the dialogue with their new ideas

Caption Making

Students have a range of local photographs / images which they provide captions for and then justify to others

Using the Scripts

There are a number of scripts already available in the PlayScripts section of this site. Here we outline some of the ways we feel these scripts can be used as part of classroom activity.

colin-headshot (2)

I'll add some of the snippets that Colin spoke about in his video and audio.



University of Nottingham