Gorbals Schools Residency: Christmas Curtain-raiser

Our Creative Learning team have been in residence at two Gorbals’ primary schools. Over autumn P4 pupils created a curtain raiser performance for Red Riding Hood, our Christmas show. We caught up with Lead Artist Carly McCaig and Creative Assistant Niamh McCarron. 

Could you tell us about the process you went through with the children?

Carly: We explored Red Riding Hood and the different versions of the story we knew and how the characters were presented in the different versions of Red Riding Hood we knew about. We were provided a series of prompts provided by Lewis Hetherington, writer of our Christmas show Red Riding Hood. We used these prompts to create a story structure with space for children to add their own creative flair. The kids created dialogue, movement sequences, and recorded their voices for a soundscape. 

Niamh: The journey was a fast-paced, exciting endeavour which allowed a lot of children access of expressing themselves creatively. The P7s drove the project, with their filled enthusiasm and each managed to explore something new. To me, finding each child’s creative output was the key to this project, and allowed such a variety of expression.


Could you explain what you feel the value of creative interventions like this residency can be to young people within school environments?

Carly: This residency opens the Citizens Theatre as a community resource for the children living in the Gorbals. This intervention invites them to be part of the Citz community.

Niamh: Creative expression is essential for young people’s development. It allows freedom for “getting it wrong” and a new way of processing emotions. Using drama and art allow for new connections and stepping into different roles where academia cannot support. 

Carly: We don’t have an ‘end goal’, as visiting artists, we have the flexibility to shift and change depending on what the children offer to us during our interactions. There’s value in the fact that we only know the children from what they present / offer to us in the room. As visitors to the school, we meet them where they are in the room and give space for each child to make their own creative contribution. Also, I think it’s important for children to have positive interactions with adults they trust who aren’t part of the school staff.

What was your favourite moments of the project?

Carly: The utter pride and joy in the kids' faces as they walked off the stage at Tramway. I don’t think we could have prepared them for that feeling.


Niamh: One day there was a feeling of a buzz and excitement to get costumes and masks made, so we suggested having over lunchtime an Art club. The young people danced, sang, painted, and created characters and despite all the conflicting relationships that naturally happen in a school, everyone was welcome, with a shared want to be creative.

Carly: Hearing ‘that was over too quick’ and ‘can we do that again?’ as they walked off the stage at Tramway. Seeing the Tramway auditorium full of 300+ people from the Gorbals was very special. A child decided that he wanted to make ‘claws’ for the wolf group. We weren’t sure if he would do it so just let him roll with it. The next week we appeared to find out that He and three classmates spent a week making 200 origami claws! 

What do you hope the young people take away from their experience?

Niamh: I hope that the young people are able to harness their power that with a little bit of creativity, you can achieve anything.

Carly: I hope the children have finished the project feeling valued and listened to. I hope they feel part of the Citizens Theatre community and encouraged confidence to engage with us in the future as patrons or participants. I hope they’ve left with increased confidence, feeling creatively enriched by their involvement in the project and are proud of what they achieved!

Our Christmas Curtain-Raiser was part of an 8-month artistic residency at Blackfriars Primary School and St Francis Primary School in the Gorbals. Find out more about the wider project.