Living with the War is a schools' play specifically designed to support the exploration of World War One at Key Stages 1 - 4. Available to schools across the UK, we’ve delivered this immersive and experiential day to thousands of children and young people across the UK to great acclaim.

Living with the War Description

Living with the War - Schools Play

It’s difficult to comprehend the scale of World War I, with millions of young lives ended by the conflict. So Living with the War explores the events of 1914 – 1918 through the eyes of two families, one wealthy, the other scraping a living, in the fictional English village of Puddington. And this interactive performance shows how, while they may have been hundreds of miles from the battlefields of France and Belgium, they were still caught up in events. With fathers, sons and brothers away fighting, those left at home did their bit by making “comforts” for the soldiers and working in the munitions factories.

Commissioned from professional writer and former teacher Paul Burns, Living with the War introduces pupils to the outbreak of World War I – before taking an emotionally sensitive approach to the extents to which its ripples were felt. Working with Sir Arthur and Lady Puddington and Lizzie and Tom Mayne, pupils will have opportunities to re-enact a range of aspects of life on the home front (and to learn some topical songs) as they move through the years from 1914 – 18.

The 75 minute interactive performance (which is suitable for up to 180 pupils at a time) is followed by six, 60 minute, age-differentiated workshops (each suitable for up to 30 pupils) that use drama to explore some of the themes in more detail, (accommodating 120 pupils in total).

The performance is particularly suitable for Key Stages 2 - 3 but can be adapted for older age groups – please ask for more details.

Outcomes: greater knowledge of the causes and course of the War; heightened awareness of activities on the home front; increased understanding of the roles played by class and gender during the period.

Cross-curricular Links: History, Geography, English, Drama, Maths, RE

"Thank you for bringing your superb WW1 play and workshops to us last week. The children were captivated by the play and thoroughly enjoyed the workshops. They got so much out of the whole process and there was a lot of scope for us to follow up afterwards. I was very impressed by the old fashioned language used in the play -something year 6 picked up on later. Above all, the show was moving. I had been to see the poppies at the Tower of London the day before, but this small drama brought tears to my eyes for the small, human story of one village through the war. Thank you." (Helen Graff, Edith Neville Primary School)

Other World War I workshops on offer include: 


Time Travel Tourists: World War I

Why not get a deeper understanding of World War I by welcoming a Time Travel Tourist into your school for the day? Your visitor will

Introduce him or herself at a whole-school assembly, then meet a number of classes (EYFS to Year 6) in workshops, where activities will include …

  • Questions and Answer sessions – and we’ll advise you on the best ways of generating questions in advance 
  • The Causes of Conflict – a drama activity uncovering how and why the world found itself at war in 1914
  • The Reality of War – a drama technique designed to share with pupils’ their visitor’s experience of the war.

We have a wide range of World War I Tourists available – and you can choose from …

General Douglas Haig: in charge of British troops on the Western Front for most of the war, General Haig’s strategies made him a controversial figure. But he was always more than ready to speak up for himself …

Mrs Emmeline Pankhurst: a leading figure in the Suffragette movement in the early part of the 20th century, Mrs Pankhurst agreed to support her country during the war. But she wasn’t afraid to speak out when she thought the politicians were wrong!

Siegfried Sassoon: Born into a wealthy family, Sassoon became an officer in the British army not long after the war started. After a nervous breakdown caused by shellshock, he used poetry to share with others the horrors of war.

Lizzie Mayne: a widow, Lizzie has mixed feelings about the war. On the one hand, it has provided her with a well-paid job in a munitions factory. On the other, though, her son Tom is serving in the trenches – so, like many of her friends and neighbours, she lives in constant fear of “the telegram”.

"I want to say thank you for a fantastic day for our Key Stage 2. The children really enjoyed it and were engaged at all times. It covered a range of learning styles and the children enjoyed it immensely. The sessions were really hands on and interactive and the children were always switched on. I feel they have learned a lot from the sessions and it will show in their up coming history work. I know from discussions with the staff and pupils that it was an entirely enjoyable experience and you  will be our first port of call for any future history topics.  Thank you very much." History Subject Leader, The Berkeley Primary School


EYFS-KS3 / P1-S3 / Senior Infants - 6th Class
75 min performance followed by 6 x 60 min workshops
420 pupils per day
School Hall


How many pupils can take part?

The 75 minute interactive performance can be enjoyed by up-to 180 pupils.

Each of the 6 x 1-hour age-differentiated workshops can accommodate up to 30 pupils - a total of 180 pupils.

If you opt to have the performance twice, rather than including follow-up workshops, a total of 360 children will get to see it.

What is the format of the day?

We will work with you to plan a timetable for the day, to suit the number of classes you would like to see the play - and around the specific timings of your school day.

In a one form entry Primary School, the timetable might look like this:

8.00: Actors arrive to set up in the hall


9.15 - 10.30: Performance for whole school (Years 1 - 6) 

11.00 - 12.00: Workshops for Years 1 and 2


1.00 - 2.00: Workshops for Years 3 and 4

2.00 - 3.00: Workshops for Years 5 and 6

Alternatively, you can opt to have 2 x Performances, each followed by a Q&A session, meaning more pupils get to see the play. A timetable might then look like this:

8.00: Actors arrive to set up in the hall


9.00 - 10.15: Performance 1


10.30 -11.00: Q&A 1

11.00 - 11.30: Hall cleared for lunch


1.10 - 1.30: Performance space reset

1.30 - 2.45: Performance 2

2.45 - 3.10: Q&A 2

Are there any technical requirements?

Each working space needs to be equipped with laptop/screen/projector, so pupils can view the supporting PowerPoint throughout.


Where will the follow-up workshops take place?

The follow-up workshops can take place in the classroom. They are active sessions, so we would ask that desks and chairs are stowed away as far as possible.

Related Workshops

Big History Day

A themed Big History Day provides you with the perfect platform to generate a real “history buzz” across the whole school! 

History Through Drama

History Through Drama day can accommodate the whole of up to a two-form entry school in a single day!

Ruby Slipper's Tour of British History!

A unique way to explore both history and British Values - in just one day! There are two things you should know about Ruby Slippers.