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The sting in the story of an old shoe

Hatching the cobra Big Brum TIE Company, Saltley School, Birmingham. In a multi-racial school where, as teacher David Kemp admits, "racial conflict is very much alive in the local area", how do you tackle the subject of racism?

Big Brum has addressed that question with a year's programme inspired by the writings of Primo Levi. This production for years 6 and 7 traces the persecution of Jews in Germany from 1922 to 1944.

It has been sensitively handled. The children are involved in helping to discover why Christina, a bright 17-year-old schoolgirl, is suddenly truanting.

They are drawn into the story of her grandfather who has left instructions for her to destroy a small, black box in his flat. It contains a stone; a child's shoe; an envelope of ashes and pages from different years' diaries.

The success of this skilful piece of theatre was manifest in the group work which followed, devising "still photographs" to illustrate the significance of the items in the box. The children clearly understood the pain of individual suffering under laws which set one people against another. AF

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