About

*Unfortunately, due to other work commitments, I can now only perform school shows on Fridays. This means my availability is very limited and dates get booked up quickly. Please contact me to check my availability.*

 

The plays

Performed by actor Oliver McMechan, Steps in Time are a series of hour-long interactive history plays modelled around the Key Stage 1 & 2 National Curriculum.

Using costumes, music and authentic artefacts, the hustle and bustle of times gone by are brought to life. For more details on the individual plays click here

Information for schools

  • 1, 2 or 3 plays in a day
  • Different plays for different year groups in one day
  • Actor Oliver McMechan plays every character
  • Lots of audience participation and the chance for children to perform
  • Authentic props, music and costumes used

Where I go

I am based in Kent and cover East and West Kent, East and West Sussex, Essex, Surrey and Central/South London. If you fall outside those areas then please contact me to discuss the possibilities.

The Plays

stoneTravel back to the dawn of civilisation in this fast-paced show that races through the centuries. From early hunter-gatherers to the warring Celts, see how the discovery of something called ‘metal’ changed the world forever!

Topics covered include:

  • Life as a hunter gatherer (Primitive life, food types, hunting techniques, skills and crafts, fire-starting).
  • Life as a bronze-age metalsmith (The discovery of metal, the smelting process, weapon manufacturing).
  • Life as a Celtic chief (Warring tribes, hill forts, family life, farming, the use of iron).

Main characters:

  • Small Owl, a Stone Age hunter-gatherer
  • Alafon, a Bronze Age metalsmith and maker of many wondrous things
  • Brennus, a Celtic chief. Leader of the Dogantes tribe

 

greekVisit the warm sunny land of Ancient Greece and see how this mighty civilisation began. Become a famous actor in the theatre, one of the very first Olympians or perhaps a Spartan warrior. Hear of gods, monsters and war in this fascinating look at an ancient way of life!

Topics covered include:

  • Life in Athens (the Acropolis, gods, city states, democracy and how it works, the Olympics {events, athletes and cheating}).
  • Life in Sparta (armies, Spartan slaves, warriors, Spartan family life, training, weapons and equipment, Spartan women).
  • Greek theatre (plays, competitions, theatre style, masks, the story of Theseus and the Minotaur enacted, the audience, amphitheatres.

Main characters:

  • Agapios, a Greek nobleman and member of the assembly
  • Theron, a slave of the Spartans
  • Carpus, a Greek playwright and director

Other characters:

  • Demetrius, a runner
  • Georgious, a standing longjumper
  • Hyppolitus, a wrestler

egyptianTake a trip up the Nile to discover what life was really like for the Ancient Egyptians. Join Anemro, your guide, as he explains the mysteries of the gods and the Pharaohs. Learn all about the nasties of mummification from a royal embalmer and help the Pharaoh’s detective crack the case of the infamous tomb robbers. A fast paced lively visit to an Ancient civilisation – right from your classroom!

Topics covered include:

  • Life as a market trader (items for sale, worshipping many different gods, the legend of how the gods came to be, the Pharaoh).
  • Life as a Royal embalmer (beliefs of the Ancient Egyptians, the embalming process, tools and equpiment, canopic jars, mummification, the feather of truth, the afterlife).
  • Life as the Pharoah’s detective (Pyramids, the Valley of the Kings, the Royal palace, tomb robbers and how they work, different people needed to rob a tomb, distributing the booty, helping the detective).

Main characters:

  • Anemro, the market stall trader
  • Suten Anu, the Royal embalmer
  • Kemnebi, the Pharoah’s detective

romanMeet Celtic peasants, nervous soldiers and Roman citizens as you journey through Britain AD 43. Are you fit enough to make it as a centurion or will you end up a slave, serving the highest nobles of the land? Step up to the challenge and see what 1st Century Britain was like in the hands of the Roman Invaders.

Topics covered include:

  • Life as a Celt (living conditions, fighting styles, worship of the spirits, reaction to the Roman invasion).
  • Life as a Roman soldier (armour, battle, weapons, life in the camp, duties, punishments).
  • Life as a Roman merchant (villas, servants, food and feasting, bath house, furnace, hypocaust, worship of the gods).

Characters in the show:

  • Camlin – A Celtic warrior of the Dogantes tribe
  • Titus – A Roman legionnaire
  • Gaius Horatius Bassus, a Roman merchant

vikingTravel to 9th century Britain and meet the invading Vikings as they battle with the Saxons for control of these islands. Meet warriors, skalds (poets) and slaves as you spend the night in the city of Jorvik. Help entertain the Viking leaders as they decide how to move forward with their conquering plans. Plans that could decide the fate of Britain forever!

Topics covered include:

  • Life as a warrior (Armour, weapons, battle, reasons for battle, raiding, recruiting from the audience for battle, longboats etc).
  • Life as a skald (poet/storyteller) (Viking society and hierachy, the pantheon of Gods, storytelling and recruiting from the audience for help).
  • Life as a thrall (slave) (Viking homelife, crafts, Kings Ethelred and Alfred, Saxon resistance, the situation in 878 and the possibility of Danelaw).

Main characters:

  • Brynjar, a Viking warrior of questionable intelligence
  • Stian, a travelling storyteller in need of food and lodging
  • Cenric, a slave for the Vikings. Originally Saxon and hoping to escape back to his people

tudorsJoin Peascod the jester as he remembers his life under the rule of the turbulent Tudors. Find out why Henry VIII had so many wives and just how easy it was to lose your head! Shake hands with Kings, hear from famous explorers and even receive a dance lesson from Queen Elizabeth herself in this comic journey through 16th Century England and don’t forget your ruff!

Topics covered include:

  • Henry VIII (the beginnings of the Tudor reign, Henry VII & VIII, the six wives, the Church of England, the need for a son).
  • Elizabeth (Mary, Edward, difficulties of becoming queen, dancing, dress, not marrying).
  • Sir Francis Drake & sailing (exploring, hygiene, food, navigation, punishments, dangers, the Spanish, treasure and spoils).

Main characters:

  • Peascod the jester
  • Henry VIII (played by an audience member)
  • Elizabeth (Peascod’s version)
  • Sir Francis Drake

fire1666. London is dry, smelly and parched after a hot summer, but the baker Thomas Farrinor has bigger problems to worry about. Lend a hand to prepare 100 bread rolls for a royal banquet and become firefighters as one little spark from his oven brings a city to it’s knees!

Topics covered include:
London in 1666, how the fire started, making bread, Thomas Farrinor, Samuel Pepys and his diaries, how the fire spread, water squirts, fire ‘engines’, Bloodworth the mayor, hiding valuables, escaping the fire {carts, boats, walking}, living outside the city, the rebuilding of London and the problems with London at the time of the fire.

Main characters:

  • Samuel Pepys
  • Thomas Farrinor
  • A fireman

Other characters:

  • Thomas Farrinor’s wife
  • Thomas Bloodworth, Major
  • A lighterman (boatman)

victorianCharlie, The Victorian Shoeshine Boy – A fast-paced journey through a day in the life of Charlie, a shoeshine boy in Victorian England. From orange sellers to psychics, con men to toyshop owners, you’ll meet them all in this comical interactive show and even get to try the cup and ball. Join Charlie as he brings the hustle and bustle of the 1800’s to life.

Topics covered include:

  • Life as a shoe-shine boy (Rich, poor and the middle classes, children having to work and their various jobs {crossing sweeper, factory work, chimney sweeping}, housing, horses, health, cleanliness, carbolic soap, food stalls, and family life).
  • Markets and trade (Different types of markets, goods for sale {usual and unusual}, how to make a living, fruit sellers, psychics and mediums, paranormal and con-men).
  • Life as a toy shop owner (Middle classes, education, different toys for different children, rocking horses, dolls, soldiers, penny stall, cup and ball, circus acrobats, spinning tops, steam trains).

Main characters:

  • Charlie, the shoeshine boy
  • Mervyn Flint, the market manager
  • Mr Olivetti, owner of Olivetti’s toy emporium

Other characters:

  • Tall tale Taffy, the con-man.
  • Lizzie the fruit-seller.
  • Madam Sylvie, the psychic.

ww2William lives in London with his family when World War Two begins and turns his life upside down. He is evacuated to the countryside along with Donnie, a mischievous troublemaker and together they share the excitement and heartache of living away from home. Join William as he learns about air raids and buzz bombs, swing music and chewing gum and meet all the characters along the way!

Topics covered include:

  • The start of the war, bombing, air raids, buzz bombs, Americans joining, chewing gum, swing music, blackouts, rationing and ‘Dig for Victory’.
  • Evacuation, gas masks, billeting officers, foster parents, farmyard animals, the countryside, school or lack of, visits from parents, growing up, the wireless, the home guard, the end of the war, returning home.

Main characters:

  • William, an evacuee
  • Donnie, a badly behaved evacuee
  • Mr Peabody, a farmer and billeting officer
  • Mrs Brocklehurst, a reluctant carer

The Plays

Acting workshops

Oliver now offers acting workshops for schools. Having been a professional actor for 16 years and regularly performing 9 one-man history shows for KS2, Oliver has a wealth of tips and tricks for standing in the limelight. Confidence, projection, enunciation, and characterisation are all skills that Oliver can help with. A workshop lasts an hour and uses fun games, exercises and characters from Steps in Time to improve performance skills. Perfect for the upcoming school production or just as a fun drama session to get that confidence flowing. The hall is the best place for the session and around 30 children is the ideal number. Bespoke sessions tailored to a particular play can also be arranged. Please contact Oliver for current prices and more details.

Dungeons and Dragons Tabletop Roleplaying

Besides his love of theatre and history, Oliver’s other passion is Dungeons and Dragons, the world’s most popular roleplaying game. DnD is enjoying a huge resurgence in popularity due to shows like Game of Thrones, Stranger Things and The Big Bang Theory.
The educational benefits of DnD include improving teamwork, problem solving, social skills, literacy and maths. Oliver currently runs two weekly evening groups for adults in the Tunbridge Wells area and offers himself as a Dungeon Master for hire. Services include adult evening sessions, corporate team-building sessions, after-school or in-school sessions or children’s birthday parties. Please see my dedicated DnD page for more details: www.steps-in-time.co.uk/dnd

Prices

One play – £195
Two plays – £295
Three plays (full day) – £370

A £10 supplement will charged when different shows are required in the same day.

There is no VAT charged

For schools, a ‘play’ is classed as the one hour performance session. Oliver can perform three different plays in one day or three of the same type to suit your class sizes and needs.

Travel/Fuel Surcharge (in addition to the play fees)…
Oliver is based in Pembury, Kent and he charges 45p per mile travelled plus any other charges incurred, such as the Dartford Crossing toll or the London congestion charge. Please contact him for more accurate travel costs.

About Oliver

greek

Oliver McMechan (was Naylor) is originally from West Sussex and now lives in Kent.

After studying Theatre Arts at Middlesex University, Oliver went on to complete his professional training at Mountview Academy in North London.

He has been involved in many professional productions since graduating, including number one tours of The Railway Children and Little Women, a summer season at Southwold and panto in Chipping Norton. Oliver also appeared in the short film The Mole which was screened on BBC2 and he played Toby in What Does Your Daddy Do? which was short-listed for the International Short Film Competition in Cannes.

In 2006 Oliver wrote and produced a play for Maidstone Museum about Victorian life that used artifacts from the museum’s collection. The play was a huge success and Oliver returned the following year with a new play about WW2. During this time Oliver was appearing regularly at The Dickens Festival, Rochester with his Victorian play and was getting many requests from teachers that the plays become available for schools. If there’s one thing Oliver loved about school, it was when theatre companies would come in to perform and so Oliver gave up his ‘jobbing’ acting career and turned his attention towards STEPS in TIME for schools.

Oliver now offers nine history plays that support the KS 1 & 2 history curriculum and has built up a network of schools and venues who have him back time and time again.

School Testimonials

“Oliver came to our school for 2 days visiting 6 classrooms covering 3 different topics. The children absolutely loved his performance! As well as learning new facts, he performed his shows through humour, audience participation and constant visual stimulation. The children loved the Q and A sessions afterwards and being able to handle some of the artefacts. I would highly recommend this guy and we are definitely having him back next year!”

Rachael Blowes, Laycock Primary School, Islington

“You are quite clearly a talented man. We have to fill in so many pieces of paper in order to have visitors in school but whilst watching the children watching you I knew that all the effort was worth it and I will highly recommend you in the future.

…In all my years of teaching I have seen many productions but this was just fantastic – and it was just one man!”

Tracey Barrie, Notre Dame School, Lingfield

“Many thanks for all your hard work on Wednesday – the children and staff greatly admired and were impressed by your style of presentation and we all learnt a lot. You must be exhausted after such a full on one-man show! It has really made our topic on Romans seem more real and I’m sure this is also true with year 2. The blend of drama, costume, artefacts and music together with the way you involved them certainly helped them to remember facts about the period.”

Hazel Schagen, St Matthews School, Redhill

“Thank you…one of the best in-school drama productions I have seen”
“Themes covered were wide ranging and addressed at a good pace”
“It has brought many of the topics studied to life for our children”
“As close to first hand as these children will come”

Moulsham Junior School, Chelmsford, various teachers

“(Oliver was) absolutely fantastic. He was brilliant, amazing content and brought the Great Fire of London alive for us.The children’s words for it are:-
SPECTACULAR, HILARIOUS, FANTASTIC, SUPERB, BRILLIANT, AMAZING AND EXTRAORDINARY!
I would thoroughly recommend him.”

Sarah Burden, Holmewood House School, Tunbridge Wells

“…The most amazing thing was how much the children learnt without even realising it. The children absolutely loved it and were really buzzing in the afternoon as they excitedly shared what they had learned. This is a fantastic way to bring aspects of the way of life from over 3000 years ago vividly into the minds of the children. The characters you invented worked brilliantly to give variety and keep everyone absorbed. I wish history had been like this when I was at school! Keep up the excellent work. Thanks on behalf of all of year 4 at Milton Mount Primary School.”

Julia Searles, Milton Mount Primary School, Pound Hill

Venue Testimonials

“Charlie’s Victorian story has been a huge hit with families at Chiddingstone Castle. Engaging, lively and yet rich with historical learning, Oliver’s performances have been so popular that we have had to increase the space and time available to fit them in. He is an integral part of our activity and education programme.”

Alex Lochrane, Former Director, Chiddingstone Castle

“Charlie and William are great characters that both children and adults can relate to. Oliver’s performances were magical – he transported his audience back in time to learn about the past in a way that was engaging and fun. We received great feedback and our visitors loved it.”

Simon Lace, Former Museums and Heritage Manager, Maidstone Museum

“The performances didn’t shy away from sensitive issues but tackled them in a fun and appropriate way that help both children and adults makes sense of and connect with the topic. It gave the audience a good understanding of life at the time and encouraged them to think about how their lives are different.”

Sandra Hedblad, Programme Manager (Family Learning), Museum of London

Contact

 

onaylor@gmail.com
07788 417642