It’s not difficult to see why Jay Hilalen is such a success with her business, Pyjama Drama. Kids love working with her so much that they go right the way through the programme from babies to 7 year olds. Their siblings, as they are born, get caught up too.
Jay is bright and friendly and clearly loves her work…work she really came into by chance because of a yearning to live in Pembrokeshire and be independent.
“I met my husband to be, just after returning to London after working in Korea where I had been teaching.” she told me. “Early in our relationship, I wanted to share Pembrokeshire with him. I had spent many happy childhood holidays in and around our caravan in Narberth. When I found a shepherd’s hut in Crymych we came here together and had a lovely time exploring north Pembrokeshire. We both returned to London, secretly each harbouring a fantasy about moving here to live.”
Jay is resourceful and creative. She has a drama degree, has worked as a nanny and a P.A. and, by her own admission has a mathematical mind. She began to quietly google jobs in the county that would suit her skills and quietly fantasised about the life she and Arvydas could be living.
“One night back in London we were just sitting out under the stars when we got to talking and we both realised we had the same dream”. The realisation spurred her into concentrated action. Once in Pembrokeshire Arvydas began to work as a wood turner and Jay began a franchise called Pyjama Drama.
Pyjama Drama is a drama and imaginative play programme for young children that aims to develop key skills by igniting children’s imaginations. They offer classes and Interactive performances around the UK – during term-time and in the holidays and they entertain at birthday parties.
“It was serendipitous”
Jay laughs, “The money… everything, just fell into place and within months we had moved.”
Tell me more about your work.
“I offer imaginative play for children up to the age of 7…a chance for them to immerse themselves in a world all of their own creativity. It’s a very structured programme with themes that are explored and changed half termly.”
What sort of themes?
“An example would be HOMES. The children play with ideas like living with Grandma, living in a Castle, or simply living in their own home. Each theme takes children away from T.V. and film and encourages their creativity. ” Jay tells me about a journey she and the children have taken recently to the North Pole to help Mr Penguin find his wife.
“It’s all designed to flow, she explains, through activities ,songs, games and improvisation.”
Jay goes on the tell me more. “I run four different types of drama classes. All the sessions are just right for each individual child’s developmental stage, and they take into account that children develop at different rates, so age is only one factor in making sure that each child is in the class most appropriate for them, and that everyone is happy.”
“The four groups are Dewdrops: 6 months – 2 years ,Raindrops: 2 – 3 years , Rainbows: 3 – 4 years and Sunbeams: 5 – 7 years.”
Jay also offers one-off sessions and parties.
“Pyjama Drama is great fun.” she tells me, “Children come back again and again and bring their siblings with them, but it’s more than just a joyful experience. The children learn to appreciate music through listening, singing and playing with basic instruments. They learn respect and care for others. I watch them grow in confidence and cooperation. Parents often remark that their children play better with their siblings, after taking Pyjama Drama classes..”
Jay describes some of the activities they do in the sessions for the older children, including the children using their own body as a prop. “ We have made toothbrushes ,plates of food and shopping trolleys with all the food inside, just using our bodies. Everyone gets involved and we have great fun guessing what we are all trying to be.”
Sound like great fun, but working with children so intensely can be very tiring.
Jay shakes her head and laughs , “I can be tired by other things that life brings but I am never tired when I am leading a session. The children’s enthusiasm is infectious.”
Do parents stay and get involved ?
“Parents are required to stay for the sessions for under 5s, but it’s better for the older ones to just explore without looking to their parents for what to do. We don’t tell the children what to do. We show them by example and encourage their imagination to guide them.”
Where do you work and how can people get in touch with you?
“All lessons take place in Haverfordwest leisure centre. Classes are £5, paid half a term in advance, but as always we offer a 3 Week Trial for £18, which includes a t-shirt. Sibling discounts apply.”
Facebook: Pyjama Drama Pembrokeshire
Below is the term time timetable for 2018. Any holiday classes are announced on the Facebook Page.
9:20 2-4 years
10:00 6-24 months
9:30 6-24 months
10:00 2-4 years
10:40 5-7 years
What some people have said about Jay’s Pyjamadrama.
“Pyjama Drama has made my daughter open up more about her imaginative play. She never used to pretend play as much as she does now. She’s Pretending she has dragons to look after and she’s in the jungle climbing a mountain! Jay is fantastic with all the children and makes every session special. Highly recommend to everyone.”
“Pyjama drama is fantastic! My 5 and 2-year-old love it, they look forward to it all week. Jay is wonderful, she has so much enthusiasm and energy. She has them all enthralled. The difference it has made in their play at home is amazing, they now play together and it’s so imaginative. They act out little stories and both have their own roles.
Would recommend pyjama drama to everyone!”
“My daughter started going at 2 and a half she absolutely loves her sessions and my 18 month old is entertained watching them. I have noticed her imagination develop and she is now even more of a drama queen!! Highly recommended and Jay is great!!”
“Pyjama Drama is fab & Jay is amazing with the children. All of their ideas are valued and she truly does boost their confidence and self-esteem.”
“Jay is fantastic with the children. My daughter Mia is extremely shy, but now really starting to come of her shell. She loves going. Over the school holidays my son Lewis came along and really enjoyed himself.”
“My daughter has enjoyed every Pyjama Drama class she has been to and her excellent Pyjama Drama birthday party for her fourth birthday. Her teacher is so enthusiastic and enthrall the children. For some reason my 2-year-old son doesn’t enjoy the classes but he has a much more reserved temperament, he is happy to observe with me! Thank you to Jay Pyjama Drama Pembrokeshire.”