The Cinderella Project

Case Studies

The Cinderella Project was a collaborative project designed by DANCOP and Nottingham Playhouse. Built on findings that drama is a successful vehicle for raising confidence and self-belonging in care experienced learners; the project was a development of our previous programme Discover the Dramatic Arts.

Cinderella aimed to raise awareness of careers in theatre and the arts for learners who have experience of living in care. These learners are less likely to have a sense of belonging at home or school, and therefore the dramatic arts provide a fantastic opportunity to support these learners to develop self-efficacy and goals for their futures.

The Project

Learners in Years 7 to 13 from schools across Nottingham were given a 2-month long insight into drama and theatre production, while generating awareness of creative and alternative pathways. Melissa May Smith and Sharan Dhillon from the Playhouse worked with learners to develop, rehearse and perform their own original piece. The learners developed their own ideas and characters which scriptwriter Sara Bodinar transformed into the play “Atlantis Under Clifton”. The project also involved third-party partner Catharsis, who provided a drama therapist to support the project.

The group shadowed the rehearsals of the Cinderella pantomime. They learnt about careers in set building, costume design, directing, and producing. By experiencing behind-the-scenes of a busy theatre and engaging with individuals who had mixed routes into the profession, learners were able to explore paths to higher education.

DANCOP was responsible for supplementing the creative rehearsals with careers information and guidance to break down any misconceptions around higher education and raise aspirations regarding the learners’ next steps. On a visit to the University of Nottingham, learners met with a Student Ambassador who had care experience. The questions they asked of her provided tremendous insight into life at university.

Learners decided to perform in aid of Nottingham Hospitals Charity. The performance challenged them as many were performing for the first time but they rose to the occasion, helping to raise £129.


Learner Feedback

“‘I was able to grow in confidence with talking to new people I was able to learn a lot about myself”

“It makes you think about other people… it makes you more open to people who are different…”

“I liked how, like, creative we could be… That was really fun getting to, like, all come together and start with whatever our own idea was, and what characters we’d like to be”

“I wasn’t a fan of going into Uni because me and school don’t get along but go to visit [the campus] it opened my eyes a bit”

Parent Feedback

“X’s confidence has grown immensely during the course … [X] is really enthusiastic in continuing [their] journey within the arts.”

Next Steps

The benefits of using the dramatic arts as a vehicle to engage with learners from care-experienced backgrounds include an increased sense of belonging. As well as confidence in decision-making around their next steps. Collaborating in a creative way helped the group establish rapport with one another and build trust with delivery staff. We look forward to the legacy of this project. DANCOP continues to support the Playhouse’s group for young people with care experience, Rootz Group.

Thank you to the schools involved; Trinity Academy, Bramcote College, NUAST, and Djanogly City Academy. Thanks also to our partners Nottingham College and Nottingham Trent University (Brackenhurst Campus); as well as Catharsis and Nottingham Playhouse.

Blog content written by Abie Whitehead