SIBF 2022: Children learn how to create stories from scraps of paper, cloth

Workshop teaches kids to develop characters that move and tell a story from items in a box

By Lamya Tawfik

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Published: Thu 3 Nov 2022, 5:33 PM

Last updated: Thu 3 Nov 2022, 7:53 PM

Using buttons, scraps of paper and pieces of cloth, children at the Sharjah International Book Fair are learning how to create a magical story world inside a box.

“In every house, there’s that one drawer in which we put random items. Things that have no place anywhere else in the house goes in that drawer. If you open that drawer, it will tell you a story, many stories about every item. This is the idea behind the stories in a box workshop,” said Veronica Olmi, the director of Teatro Verde.

Teatro Verde is a 42-year-old theatre companies in Italy - one of the oldest. The company, based in the historic neighbourhood of Trastevere in Rome, specialises in puppetry – puppet making and shows and have a mobile theatre van.

During the workshop, children start with an empty box, and they create a world inside it with characters that move to tell a story. “Everyone knows Pinocchio and so we used his world and the characters in the story,” she said.

Sometimes, though, children want to create their own characters and Veronica and her team support their creativity.

Encouraging children’s creativity and motor skills by going beyond the colouring page is an important part of Teatro Verde’s mission. “We ask them to use all the material they have at home, things that they can find which they can colour, cut and paste. We want them to use their hands to invent and to create,” she said.

When children are exposed to theatre and the various theatrical arts, they grow better, according to Veronica. She said that adults who were once children who took classes with Teatro Verde would come back and tell her how it changed their lives. “They say that in their careers they feel more secure, freer and that they understand people better,” she said.

When children learn about theatre from a young age it become a regular part of their lives, she said. “Choosing to go to the theatre becomes as easy as opting to go to the cinema or to a restaurant. It’s not unusual,” she said.

During the workshop at SIBF, Veronica said she felt the power of non-verbal communication, made possible by art, as she used colours, gestures and practical work with the children. “I saw them think creatively and produce work that they were proud of. This is art. Children all over the world can think creatively and their eyes light up when they see their work,” she said.

Teatro Verde has one of the longest theatrical seasons in Italy with workshops and shows running from October to May. “It is a theatre for the community, families and teachers. We don’t want to create stars we want to use theatre as a means for communicating, meeting and collaborating creatively,” she said.


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