Each year Theatre Uncut, set up in 2011 to respond to the arts cuts in public spending, ask writers to contribute short political plays for performance. This year includes work by writers such as Vivienne Franzmann and Anders Lustgarten.
The plays are currently embarking on a UK tour, running until 13 December, which is still due to visit: Soho Theatre, London; Brighton Dome, Bristol Old Vic; Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury; and Liverpool Playhouse.
During this touring period, all the plays featured are available to be performed by anyone anywhere rights free until 13 December 2014.
Theatre Uncut co-artistic director Hannah Price said: ‘It’s an exciting year of firsts for us: our first UK tour, and for the first time we have been able to bring our writers together in a workshop process to explore ideas that they’re burning to write about – issues that affect us all. Once again, these short plays will be released across the UK and beyond for anyone to perform anywhere; inspiring discussion, thought and action. We can’t wait to see what else 2014 brings.’
Mousetrap Theatre Projects and West End producer Paula Marie Black organised a family performance on 5 November of The Scottsboro Boys at the Garrick Theatre, London.
The Scottsboro Boys runs at The Garrick Theatre, London (Credit: Johan Persson)
Those invited to attend were families who have previously taken part in Mousetrap’s Family First Nights (FFN) programme. FFN, which has been running for the last 17 years, runs a five-week summer programme where low-income families (identified by organisations such as social service agencies, housing associations, charities and community projects) can choose from 30 theatre productions in London and the West End with the support of Mousetrap. FFN participants are then invited to theatre, opera and dance events throughout the year.
The performance of The Scottsboro Boys had specially priced tickets, with children’s at £2.50–£5 and adults at £5–£10. The event sold out with 180 families in attendance. The performance time was moved to an earlier slot to 7.15pm to accommodate the needs of those with young children.
Susan Whiddington, director of Mousetrap Theatre Projects, said, ‘We are delighted to invite our families to this spectacular and very moving musical and are incredibly grateful to the generosity of Paula Marie Black for making it possible. We believe the electricity and the energy of this family audience will be inspirational to the actors and everyone involved in the production.’
Paul Roseby is the chief executive of the National Youth Theatre
Speaking at the Artsmark conference in late October, the chief executive of the National Youth Theatre was reported by The Stage as saying that drama at GCSE has ‘no relevance’ and that ‘we don’t need drama on the curriculum in such a formalised way.’
Roseby suggested that drama could be integrated into other subjects rather than continue to exist as what is perceived as a ‘very soft and easy’ stand-alone subject. He said: ‘You and I know it’s not, but the perception of it is, and that’s the battle.’
He said: ‘I would love to see schools become more like creative hubs and revolutionise the way we learn. They would create formulas and ideas that would stimulate subjects by actioning stories – Alan Turing, for instance, or Marie Curie, or re-enacting the cabinet war rooms. It’s taking the practical side of what theatre is and applying it to all subjects.
Roseby’s comments have attracted criticism from drama education figures such as Patrice Baldwin, chair of National Drama; Ian Kellgren, chief executive of Drama UK; and drama practitioner and professor Jonothan Neelands.
Neelands said Roseby’s comments were ‘not a helpful suggestion’, continuing, ‘It would be the end of drama in schools, frankly. If you don’t have it at GCSE, you’re pretty much saying that it doesn’t have any importance’.
Following the publication of Roseby’s comments in The Stage, the chief executive has taken to Twitter to clarify what he meant, saying: ‘In my speech I called for more drama in schools not less [and] enhanced role for drama teachers – question over GCSE format [and] it’s perception.’
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The Almeida Theatre is taking the full production of one of its latest shows, Our Town, into two London secondary schools this November, reaching 500 students.
Laura Elsworthy, David Walmsley and Jessica Lester in Our Town (Credit: Marc Brenner)
The cast of the current run at the Almeida will perform at Dormers Wells High School in Ealing on 10 November and Cleeve Park School in Bexley on 17 November for students. Neither of the London boroughs housing the schools, Ealing and Bexley, has a professional theatre. Students attending performances will take part in pre-show workshops.
The performances will make up part of a wider six-week programme entitled ‘Your Town’, which will involve students telling stories of their own towns of Southall and Sidcup through exploring the idea of community and creating video content.
Almeida’s artistic director Rupert Goold said of the project: ‘The work that Almeida Projects does with schools and young people is enormously inspiring, and I am so glad that we are able to continue to find exciting ways to bring our work to more young people across London.’
Vicky Featherstone with TheatreCraft volunteers (Credit: Helen Murray)
Teaching Drama visited TheatreCraft, the backstage theatre careers fair, on 17 October. The one-day event, aimed at young people aged 16-25, had more than 1,000 visitors in attendance at the Royal Opera House.
The event was opened with a speech from the Royal Court’s artistic director Vicky Featherstone. She said it was ‘such an honour’ to address the visitors to TheatreCraft. She described it as ‘an amazing moment’ that young people had gathered to pursue and research careers in backstage theatre.
Featherstone said in her opening speech: ‘I truly believe theatre in its wider sense has something in it for absolutely everyone and TheatreCraft will allow you to explore this. There are so many possibilities. Today is an amazing opportunity to come together and learn about your future. Theatre is all about people and their shared experiences. British theatre needs you.’
The day itself offered participants the chance to take part in over 70 workshops on offer in everything from theatre marketing to wig making. Over 50 exhibitors were on hand to talk to in the marketplace, highlighting education and industry opportunities throughout the country in the backstage sector. There were also 39 industry experts available for one-to-one advice sessions.
If you missed out on this year’s event, keep up to date with developments for 2015’s TheatreCraft on their website, www.theatrecraft.org.
TheatreCraft is organised by Creative and Cultural Skills, Mousetrap Theatre Projects, the Royal Opera House, Society of London Theatre and Theatre Royal Haymarket Masterclass Trust.
Drama training at universities and drama schools is a competitive business, with thousands of students auditioning each year for a limited number of spaces. But is there enough work out there for the students who are trained? In our Autumn 2 issue of TD (out now) we’re asking our Green room debaters:
George Osborne hopes the tax scheme will revive and support regional theatre (Credit: Foreign and Commonwealth Office)
This month the government initiative providing tax relief for theatre comes into effect. Touring productions can apply for 25% relief, and non-touring performance a 20% tax credit.
A tour of Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia will be one of the first productions to benefit from the scheme; the tour, launching in January 2015, is a joint venture between English Touring Theatre and Theatre Royal Brighton Productions.
George Osborne, speaking ahead of the initiative’s launch at Theatre Royal Brighton, said of the tax scheme: ‘Regional productions have sadly been in decline for many years, and that’s come and gone regardless of the Arts Council budget, but I hope this [tax initiative] will revive regional theatre and revive touring productions so that we have the great success of the West End, which has probably never been more successful than it is today, but we also have great successes around the regions.’
The Royal Opera House’s La Traviata (Credit: Catherine Ashmore)
Digital Theatre Plus, the online arts education resource featuring full-length films of captured live productions as well as behind the scenes interviews and study guides, has released a new series of opera and ballet performances.
Six-full length Royal Opera House productions are now available to view: Le nozze di Figaro, La bohème, Eugene Onegin,La traviata, Hänsel und Gretel and Dido and Aeneas.
Fiona Lindsay, creative producer of Digital Theatre Plus said: ‘This is a very exciting time as we expand the variety of educational performing arts content available within the resource. Geographical location and economic status should not be a barrier to experiencing excellent arts education, and it’s fantastic that productions from the Royal Opera House will be seen in classrooms around the world’.
There are also productions of The Sleeping Beauty, Sylvia and Swan Lake available to watch from The Royal Ballet, as well as Sondheim’s Merrily We Roll Along from director Maria Friedman and Into the Woods at Regent’s Open Air Theatre.
Alastair Roberts, managing director of Royal Opera House Enterprises, said: ‘Providing acclaimed productions alongside an education platform is not only a great way to learn but also showcases the breadth of opportunity within the arts world with behind the scenes access.’
Actor and director Richard Attenborough has died at the age of 90. Born in Cambridge in 1923, Attenborough began acting aged 12 and made his professional stage debut aged 18. The RADA graduate was one of the original cast members of The Mousetrap at the Ambassadors in 1952. He also starred in stage productions of The Little Foxes at the Piccadilly Theatre, Arthur Laurents’ The Way Back and 1952 comedy Sweet Madness.
Attenborough was a respected screen actor, appearing in more than 70 films with a breakthrough role as Pinkie in 1947’s Brighton Rock, a role he had previously performed on stage at The Garrick Theatre, and starring in other cinematic milestones such as The Great Escape, Doctor Dolittle and Jurassic Park. Behind the camera, Attenborough became an award-winning director, with his film Gandhi winning eight Oscars in 1982.
Attenborough was appointed a CBE in 1967 and knighted in 1976, being made a life peer in 1993.
He is survived by his wife, Sheila Sim, whom he married in 1945, his daughter, Charlotte, and his son, Michael, theatre director and former artistic director of the Almeida Theatre.
Martin Freeman as Richard III (Credit: Marc Brenner)
When TV and film actor Martin Freeman made his debut in Trafalgar Studios’ Richard III in July, they were some reports in the media of over-enthusiastic young audience members applauding and cheering at inappropriate moments.
In our Autumn 1 issue (out now), we are asking our Green room debaters:
Vote and let us know what you think.
Read the opinions of our panellists, including Alasdair Buchan – cast member of Trafalgar Studios’ Richard III, in our NEW issue of Teaching Drama, out now.