Working Title: Looking for Language / Aeneas Project

`And one day we shall lift

your children to the stars’

(Aeneid Book III)

What is the project?

Launching a documentary film project about the reimagining and dramatising of Virgil’s Aeneid with Year 5 and 6 pupils across 8 of the London inner-city state primary schools we work in.

Who's leading it?

Project Manager and Creative Director: Lucia Yandoli (The Latin Programme)

Shoot Director: Nic Wassell (Strage Day Films)

Animator: Sophie Siem

Facilitated by: Paul O'Mahony (the Kallos Gallery), Jonathan Goddard (The Latin Programme) and Shanika Warren (Talawa Theatre Company) 

“Wait, come, my guest,” she urges, “tell us your own story,

start to finish […] the pain

your people suffered, the wanderings you have faced.

For now is the seventh summer that has borne you

wandering all the lands and seas on earth”

(Aeneid, Book III)

How does it work? 

Stage 1 – Behind the scenes filming as the children in London primaries learn the story of Virgil's The Aeneid with their Latin teachers and respond to it through creative writing, drawing, sound sampling, storyboarding. They discuss themes, characters and different kinds of journeys in relation to their own life (e.g. a difficult bus journey, the journey to meet a new baby). We talk to pupils afterwards about what they’ve understood about Aeneas’ journey. We see glimpses of what they are learning about language and what they understand about myth and legend.  

Stage 2 – The children from 4 different primary schools will work with an animation specialist during half-day workshops to create drawings/collages inspired by the storms in the poem. The pupils drawings will be animated by the professional animator at a later date. (3-4 days of workshops during w/c 25 June 2018)

 Stage 3 – The children from 4 Latin Programme primary schools will focus on dramatising sections of the Aeneid. These sections are: 1. the beginning Aeneas escapes Troy 2. Aeneas receives a prophecy that he must travel to Italy, 3.  The Dido and Aeneas love story (retold as a primary school friendship) 4. Aeneas’ descends into the underworld to meet his father and receives a vision of hope for the future.

A small professional crew (sound recordist, shoot director/DOP, camera assistant, drama practitioner) will film the pupils’ final workshops with their drama facilitators. Each school will focus on material from a specific section of the script (one of the 4 main sequences) and whilst we will aim to shoot some specific shots that have been planned in advance we also aim to capture lots of spontaneous moments during the workshops, moments when children are absorbed in their activities.

Stage 4 –  The director will film some landscape footage suggested by the children in and around London with a professional crew. 

Stage 5 – A professional film editor edits the footage and animated material – weaving children’s readings / re-imaginings of passages of the Aeneid with images from their storyboards to create a 7-10min final film for a collective screening to the communities, schools and families involved in November 2018.

After this, we will submit the film to festivals and edit it into a series of 2min clips to be distributed in an interactive section of our website dedicated to sharing responses to the film. 

Stage 6 – We edit the behind the scenes material to distribute in short (30sec) clips on our website. (Autumn 2018)

When is all this happening?

Animations: w/c 25th June 

Filming: w/c 2nd July 2018.

Editing: Summer 2018

Screening to schools: November 2018

 About The Latin Programme

The Latin Programme is a small charity that was set up ten years ago to address the literacy challenge in UK State Primary Schools, predominantly in London. The Programme offers children an innovative approach to language learning that focuses on English as a comparison so that pupils come away not only having learnt a new language (Latin), but more fundamentally they have understood better how English works and the patterns and history that underpin it. The Programme started with a few teachers going into primary schools and lesson-by-lesson they worked out how to teach children challenging grammar and vocabulary and really stretch their understanding of language without compromising on fun and creativity. The Programme uses raps developed by rapper Jonathan Goddard and Jamila Zebiri, games, and songs to underpin all the language learning.

Children from Year 3 onwards see their Latin Programme teacher once a week to learn about ancient culture and history, language, grammar and at the end of each term a professional storyteller also visits their class to tell ancient myths and stories to the children linking to some of the Latin vocabulary they have been learning. 

The beauty of the Programme, beyond the fact that it greatly impacts on pupils language development, is in the reviving of this ancient language as young learners are only themselves learning the skills to express themselves in their own language. With this project we also hope to capture some of the essence of what we have been doing for 10 years and celebrate this with a showcasing of the talented young people we work with by showing their responses to this epic poem.

Why the Aeneid?

The Aeneid feels completely relevant to the lives of children in London today.  Many London children have even travelled a journey across the Mediterranean themselves, one that mirrors the one that Aeneas took himself as it is retold in the epic.

Focusing on rich but accessible themes of 'journeys' and 'finding inspiration for the future' allows the children to re-frame their own experience through this epic poem and allows us as the audience to re-experience the story through their eyes. How do these myths of journeys and their experience of the city differ from our own? How do today’s children find a place in the metropolis today? How does the meaning of the poetry change when we see it recited in a non-traditional setting and by London school children? Yet, also running through this is always the question of language and history. We wish to celebrate the voice of the children – their readings, their raps, their re-tellings as well as the language of the Latin poetry itself.

 The Importance of Process

We feel it is very important, particularly when working with young children to allow some fluidity to the project and allow the children to guide us rather than impose our own views on them. However, there is a grammar to the imagination as well and during the first three to four weeks the children follow a pre-designed scheme of work that encourages them to explore the story, and study the language. This scheme of work will incorporate some storytelling, drama, poetry etc. to inspire the children and help them to understand and think deeply about the core themes we are exploring. That’s why the script of the film will have a sense of openness. However, we also aim to capture as much as possible about that process on film so that this itself also becomes a fascinating story in itself, one that we very much hope to be able to communicate.

How can you support the project?

We are working with a small budget of £8,000 already secured by The Latin Programme to produce the film. The producer/creative director will not earn a fee but the rest will go towards paying the crew, drama facilitators, our animator and for all the other costs of making the film.

We are hoping to be able to raise additional funds via our website so that we can continue to grow the project after the film has been made, edit all the additional behind the scenes footage, and publicise the work the children have done in a suitable way so that we can reach new audiences.

Please help us to reach our goal by donating to The Latin Programme HERE!