Picture Book Plays, presented by Julia Donaldson

Mrs Armitage on Wheels

Written and illustratred by Quentin Blake

Mrs Armitage is an eccentric lady who loves to ride her bike with her dog Breakspear running alongside. When she discovers her bike is not quite as well-equipped as she would like, she invents all sorts of gadgets to add to it. Eventually the bike becomes too heavy for her to pedal. So finally – ‘for a bit of extra oomph’ – she adds a sail and an anchor. Of course the anchor catches on a bush and the whole bike crashes noisily into a muddled heap of junk!

Characters

  • Mrs Armitage
  • Breakspear the dog
  • A hedgehog crossing the road
  • The horn-shop owner
  • Two startled people crossing the road
  • The bike (4–6 children are required to become parts of the bike, which moves)

Props and Costumes

  • The bike is the centrepiece of this drama and can be constructed step by step:
    • The basic bike – start with two chairs back to back. Mrs Armitage sits on one chair to pedal.
    • Add handlebars – a child holds a pole/cane, stands in front of Mrs A, ready to vocalize/ring the bell. (You may find an old-fashioned bicycle bell in a bike shop to attach to the pole for the child to ring.)
    • The chain – a piece of chain (from a hardware shop) or a pleated rope can be tied and pulled round the chair legs by a child whenever the bike moves.
    • The wheels – two children twirl umbrellas or hoops.
  • Additional inventions – to be made or provided for the children to put on to the back seat or handlebars.
  • 3 horns – you can use toilet-roll holders to represent the horns.
  • Three children can provide the sounds – beep-beep/honk-honk/paheehah! Or the children can select classroom instruments.
  • A bucket and towel with soap in it – which can be hung on the handlebars.
  • A tool box – cardboard box with lid in which the children could put tools (real or toy).
  • A picnic tray – which can sit on top of toolbox.
  • The picnic – apples, bananas, sandwiches, bottles of juice, bone/biscuits for Breakspear. These can be made out of crumpled newsprint shapes covered in glue then painted when dry. Or use real fruit and sandwiches to stimulate discussion about the senses.
  • A seat for Breakspear – a stool or small chair to be added to the bike.
  • Umbrellas – for Mrs Armitage and Breakspear.
  • A sail – two garden canes and a large piece of blue lining material attached (to be held by a child).
  • Anchor – a length of rope with a card anchor attached.

Preparation

Let the children choose a range of percussion and wind (blowing) instruments to accompany certain parts of the story: the bell – bells or chime bars; the horns – vocal or horns; the chain rattling – screws in a closed tin; the wheels turning – octophones; the rain storm – shakers, rain stick, spring drum (thunder), etc,; mouth organ for cheery music; cymbal for crash; everyone banging, blowing or strumming whatever instrument they have to accompany the bike falling to bits at the end.

Contributed by Pam Wardell.

Videos

Mrs Armitage on Wheels

Mrs Armitage on Wheels

Watch a film of a class performing Mrs Armitage on Wheels with Pam Wardell

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Picture Book Plays, presented by Julia Donaldson
Printed from www.picturebookplays.co.uk