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  • Writer's pictureTom Bowtell

Introducing: Bridge Adventures

Updated: Aug 21, 2023

KIT’s Evolving Mission:


2023 is a big year for KIT as, having delivered our Adventures in Learning to more than 15,000 pupils in over 100 schools across 8 years (and gathered extensive evidence of our impact), we’re working to extend our impact beyond schools and support the emergence of creative communities led by young people through our new Bridge Adventure Programme. We’ve updated our company mission and vision to reflect this broadening of horizon, so we’re proud to confirm that:


KIT’s vision is to use immersive theatre to support the emergence of a generation of creative, confident, questioning young people; inspired through adventure.


Our mission is to make playful, immersive theatre for (and with) young people which develops their creativity, confidence and critical thinking while connecting them with their local creative community.

The Idea:


The idea for Bridge Adventures was born when I directed a Year 6 production of the Lion King in a Kilburn School. One kid puzzled me: he had zero interest in doing anything creative but was clearly fascinated by something, watching intently from the sidelines. After a couple of rehearsals I approached him and asked what job he’d like to do on the production and he said: “I definitely don’t want to act. I hate that. And I don’t want to be a director [job taken, mate]. But I think I want to help make it happen. I want to plan. I don’t know what that job is called.” I was pretty sure he was describing producing, so he became the official producer. After the show had finished its magnificent 1-performance run in the school hall, this young person asked how he could continue producing. I remembered the Tricycle Theatre had a young producer programme and made an introduction. When I showed him where it was, he revealed that his house was 2 doors away. Yet he’d never been, or even knew what it was.


Thus the idea for Bridge Adventures was born: starting in schools to ensure maximum reach, can we use young people’s powerful engagement with the Storyworlds of our adventures to connect them with local cultural offers they aren't otherwise aware of?

How it Works:

A Bridge Adventure begins like all KIT adventures: with a dramatic eruption disrupting a normal school day. It can be as simple as an old-looking letter being slid under the door in the middle of registration, or as elaborate as a Government agent’s face suddenly appearing on every interactive whiteboard in a school and summoning all pupils to an emergency assembly.


However they begin, all Bridge Adventures cast young people as heroes in a mission: perhaps they're testing a prototype robot teacher for the afore-mentioned Government agent, or perhaps they go undercover to become creative climate activists. All missions require young people to work together, develop their critical thinking skills and also to use, and hone, their own creative talents.


Preluding delivery, we will meet with local young people in their community, working with them to highlight their creative interests, skills they would like to develop, passions and relationship to their cultural community. With these young people as our official steering group and with wider consultation with their families, schools and local arts organisations, our Bridge Adventures will be youth-led and delivered in bespoke ways, all based upon each communities need.


What makes Bridge Adventures different is that the story driving pupils’ missions requires pupils to leave the school and find clues/meet characters in their community’s cultural places such as libraries, theatres, museums and galleries. In our Wardrobes Bridge Adventure, piloted in Scarborough in 2021, pupils were invited to Scarborough Art Gallery by an anonymous friend, who showed them to a secret time travel agency hidden inside a cleaning cupboard. In our EnviroTakeover piloted in spring, meanwhile, pupils snuck into Battersea Arts Centre to take over the building with their undercover Creative Climate Action Festival.


The feedback from these projects was overwhelmingly positive, as you can see on the quotes from teachers included on the images, and confirmed that an adventure feels more exciting if it visits multiple locations Indian Jones-style.


But if KIT’s new mission to support the development of creative, confident, critical thinking young people is to be successful, the project must only be the start of Young People’s relationship with their local cultural spaces.


Using our team or writers, and consulting directly with our audience, we work hard to develop deep, compelling Storyworlds for Bridge Adventures, because our rationale is that those Storyworlds persist across multiple projects (think less capitalist Marvel Comic Universe). In our Wardrobes project young people were recruited to join a secret Time Travel Agency in the initial project and were then contacted by the Agency about a new mission which took place at local libraries in the summer holidays.


Our hope is that young people’s engagement with these multi-missions story worlds, coupled with the engaging experiences they have at their local cultural spaces, will leave a legacy of a lasting relationship between them, their families and their local cultural offer.


As a final piece of the puzzle, Bridge Adventures involve KIT working closely with the in-house teams at cultural venues to explore adventurous ways they can refine their offer to young people and families. A great example of this is Immersive Story Time, where we're working with Scarborough Library to find immersive ways to reimagine their much-loved story readings for children. Our idea is to keep the favourite books at the heart of the process, but to work with the library team to develop mini-immersive journeys: perhaps parts of the story have spilled from its pages and have to be collected before the reading can begin.


Having successfully delivered 3 Bridge Adventure Pilots, and established partnerships in delivery areas, our KIT team is excited to starting building bridges in Brent, Bridlington, Thurrock and Essex over the next 4 years.


You can view our Theory of Change model for Bridge Adventures by clicking here, and read more about our different Bridge Projects and their impact here and if you are interested in hearing more about them then please get in touch at tom@kittheatre.org.





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