Tax relief for theatre begins in September

Chancellor_of_the_Exchequer_George_Osborne Credit Foreign and Commonwealth Office

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.’

Opera and ballet performances added to Digital Theatre Plus

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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.’

www.digitaltheatreplus.com

Richard Attenborough dies aged 90

RichardAttenborough07TIFF

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.

Green room: Does theatre etiquette still exist?

Martin Freeman as Richard III (Credit: Marc Brenner)

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 panelists, including Alasdair Buchan – cast member of Trafalgar Studios’ Richard III, in our NEW issue of Teaching Drama, out now.

Subscribe at www.teaching-drama.co.uk, or to buy a digital copy, visit www.pocketmags.com.

 

Student Guide to Drama Education 2014-15

SGDE 2014-15 cover F01a.inddThe 2014-15 Student Guide to Drama Education is now available to view online for FREE.

Whether you are looking to study drama at university, drama school or perhaps even starting out in the industry – you’ll find this to be a helpful guide.

Features in this year’s guide include:

  • For anyone considering drama at higher education level, our ‘five in focus’ articles put five universities, five drama schools and five training alternatives under the spotlight
  • Expert advice on picking a career pathway
  • How to survive a drama school audition
  • A guide to higher education funding
  • How to find the perfect headshot photographer for you
  • A step-by-step guide to marketing an emerging theatre company
  • PLUS – interviews with people working in the industry

Read the guide at www.rhinegold.co.uk/sgde. Subscribers to Teaching Drama will receive the Student Guide to Drama Education with their Autumn 1 2014-15 issue.

 

The Crucible, The Old Vic – Performance review

by Rachel Creaser
Star rating
****
A heartening piece of pure drama.

There's great physicalistation from the ensemble (Credit: Johan Persson)

There’s great physicalistation from the ensemble (Credit: Johan Persson)

Last night’s thunderstorm may have been forecast, but I have a feeling it may have been the doings in The Old Vic which spurred the storm to build to such intensity …

The design really sets the tone for this production: the space is awash with a dreary sepia tone and a constant smokiness in the air – there is no bright and lightness in the place. The Crucible is part of The Old Vic’s second in-the-round season – it fit the world of the play very well, and drew the audience further into the murkiness.

Directed by Yaël Farber, she hits us hard from the very beginning, and doesn’t let up throughout the three-hour production. With a story of Salem witch trials, false accusations, lies, revenge, power, God and the devil – how could it not be hard-hitting?

Richard Armitage’s portrayal of John Proctor is authoritative yet touching: he’s just as compelling to watch in quieter moments as when bellowing out in anger. Armitage has great chemistry with both of his leading ladies: Proctor’s wife, Elizabeth, played by Anna Madeley, and the formidable Abigail Williams, played by Samantha Colley. Both women have great presence: Madeley has a gripping emotional intensity, while Colley forcefully commands the attention of the audience.

Armitage's turn as John Proctor is commanding to watch (Credit: Johan Persson)

Armitage’s turn as John Proctor is commanding to watch (Credit: Johan Persson)

The movement in the play is a real highlight. Marama Corlett (playing Betty Parris) kept me engrossed as she contorted herself during a fight with an internal spirit. The movement work from the other young girls in the ensemble was also engaging and bewitching.

What I found most impressive about the production was that I found myself involuntarily shaking my head in disbelief on several occasions; I was utterly frustrated with Judge Hathhorne and his cronies – showing that the power of Arthur Miller’s storytelling is yet to dampened by time. The play may have left me feeling slightly depressed at the unfairness of life, but the most important outcome of this production is that it left me feeling something.

For people looking to go and see some impressive theatre this summer, this production has a lot to offer, and is highly recommended.

The Crucible runs at The Old Vic until 13 September 2014. Visit www.oldvictheatre.com/whats-on/2014/the-crucible to buy tickets and for more information.

Michael Gove replaced as education secretary

David Cameron’s final cabinet reshuffle before the 2015 election has seen some significant changes.

Michael Gove, who had served as education secretary since the 2010 general election, will be taking up the position of Commons chief whip. According to a tweet posted by David Cameron earlier today, Gove will now have ‘an enhanced role in campaigning and doing broadcast media interviews.’

Replacing Gove is Loughborough MP Nicky Morgan, who was appointed just three months ago as financial secretary to the treasury, and minister for women and equalities. Morgan will be retaining her women and equalities portfolio alongside her new post as education secretary.

Born in south London, Morgan attended Surbiton High School before studying law at St Hugh’s College, Oxford. She was elected MP for Loughborough in 2010, appointed assistant whip in 2012 and economic secretary to the treasury in 2013.

In his time as education secretary Michael Gove has been responsible for the biggest shake-up of England’s school system for decades. He has constantly faced opposition from teaching unions, and general secretary of the National Union of Teachers Christine Blower has stated that the union will be looking for a change of direction from Ms Morgan.

Written by Miriam Levenson
This news story was originally published on
Music Teacher magazine’s website 

Last chance for Latitude Festival – Starts this Friday

Claudine Nightingale reports on the theatre offerings at this weekend’s Latitude Festival

Arts of all genres are catered for at Latitude (Credit: Danny North)

Arts of all genres are catered for at Latitude (Credit: Danny North)

It’s that time of year again … school summer holidays, yes, but also festival season! If you’re wondering what to do with your weekend now there are no exam papers to mark, perhaps a trip to Latitude Festival in Suffolk is what you need to help you forget the past busy year. For those of you who aren’t really in the mood for a more conventional music festival – and I know you’re all passionate about theatre – Latitude is the perfect solution. As well as some great music acts, they have equally strong offerings in the field of theatre, poetry, comedy and film. Plus, if you’ve got your own children to entertain over the summer, this couldn’t be better; Latitude provides award-winning facilities and entertainment for children of all ages, ensuring that both you and they have a great weekend.

Young people can work towards an Arts Award while at the festival (Credit: Steve Hunt for Culture Works East)

Young people can work towards an Arts Award while at the festival (Credit: Steve Hunt for Culture Works East)

For children, there is an Inbetweeners teen area, designed for young people aged 12 and over. There’s loads for children to get involved with, including working as a reporter for the festival, or even performing on stage in the tent. It is organised by Culture Works East, the company that have helped to facilitate the Arts Awards possibilities for children attending the festival (see the forthcoming issue of Parent Guide to Drama Education published free online in August 2014 to find out more).

It’s also really encouraging to see that Latitude have branched out this year to actively cater for school groups. Although the deadline has passed for this year, they have been offering discounted day tickets for the Friday of the festival for local schools, with a free teacher ticket for every ten students, to allow them to take part in the Arts Award scheme and other child-friendly events. Let’s hope this goes well and is developed in future years so that more students can take advantage of this opportunity.

Forced Entertainment's The Notebooks features at 2014's Latitude Festival (Credit: Tim Etchells)

Forced Entertainment’s The Notebooks features at 2014’s Latitude Festival (Credit: Tim Etchells)

Most importantly, of course, there’s loads on offer for you. As well as a host of acts and artists in other fields (literally and figuratively!), there are some big names in theatre appearing during the weekend: on Friday, Clean Break and Forced Entertainment will each be performing two different productions; the Royal Shakespeare Company are performing a brand-new show on Saturday and Sunday, directed by Erica Whyman; and there are many others worth watching out for, including the Birmingham Repertory Theatre, Battersea Arts Centre and the Royal Exchange Theatre.

There’s not much time left, but if you’re the spontaneous type then Latitude is the only place for culture vultures to be this weekend. Tickets are still available for camping, but you can also purchase day tickets for Friday, Saturday or Sunday if you just want to sample the experience. All the information you need is at www.latitudefestival.com. Maybe see you there …

The Tiger Who Came to Tea – Performance review

by Rachel Creaser
Star rating
****
A perfect first theatre visit.

Tea time with the tiger (Credit: Alastair Muir)

Tea time with the tiger (Credit: Alastair Muir)

David Wood’s stage adaptation of Judith Kerr’s classic children’s book is visiting the West End this summer. In 2012, the show was nominated for an Olivier Award for Best Entertainment and Family.

The production, for children aged three upwards, has been carefully crafted to help make the young audience’s journey through the story as interesting and stimulating as possible.

Many theatrical conventions and devices are introduced in the play: the show opens with the cheerful ‘Hi, Hello’ song, where the actors welcome the audience to the performance and thank them for coming along. They then explain that they are here to tell a story, which will be about a girl called Sophie and her mother – it is at this point when they begin to adopt the role of their character in front of the audience. The gesture and characterisation throughout the performance is strong, providing an interesting and animated visual picture. The passing of time on this day where the story takes place is marked by clearly and is a recurring motif with a sing-song ‘tick, tock, tick, tock’.

While the narrative of the play is quite simple – a small girl’s unremarkable day at home with her mother, interspersed with visits from the postman and the milkman, is turned upside down by a visit from a well-mannered and very hungry tiger – it very clearly functions as a well-structured piece of theatre, with considered lyrics, movements, mimes, characterisations, costumes and everything else in between.

(Credit: Jane Hobson)

(Credit: Jane Hobson)

The story is brought to life by the characters, but the set, costumes and props work as fantastic accompaniments, looking as if they have come from the pen of an illustrator.

Among the use of common theatrical devices (mime, movement etc), the show also offers perhaps the most exciting theatrical element of all – magic. Food suddenly disappearing from plates, a bag which was empty becoming full without an obvious slight of hand – these are moments that children will remember and treasure as they recall their first theatre experiences.

This is a warm, friendly and fun show which is perfectly pitched for its age range. The Tiger Who Came to Tea would be a great introduction to some of the conventions of theatre, as well as its most important quality – its magic.

The Tiger Who Came to Tea runs at the Lyric Theatre at Shaftesbury Avenue in London until 7 September 2014. The show will also have a Christmas season at Birmingham Town Hall this December. For more information, visit www.thetigerwhocametotealive.com.

New initiative seeks to develop contemporary theatre output from south-east England

A new three-year initiative called greenhouse has been launched to develop contemporary theatre and its audiences in the south east and east of England. Over three years, greenhouse will invest £420,000 into 30 projects.

The scheme, supported by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and Arts Council England, is being led by house, an organisation which curates and underwrites a programme of around 20 contemporary theatre productions each year for their network more than 125 venues.

This year has seen greenhouse seed-fund ten projects with over £50,000, awarding grants between £3,000 and £8,000 to projects. The ideas put forward for investment had to involve a partnership between a theatre-maker and a venue. The projects chosen for investment were selected by a panel of theatre industry professionals.

The first ten greenhouse projects include: Root Theatre bringing an emerging writer to her home town Gillingham to explore ideas for a new play about the town with the support of new venue LV21; South Street in Reading working with artists based in the town to create a piece for the recently decommissioned Reading Prison; and Take the Space is going to Norden Farm Arts Centre in Maidenhead to work with a boxing club and local Quakers for ideas to develop their new play, White Feather Boxer.

Richard Kingdom, greenhouse project manager says: ‘There’s no shortage of theatre being made, venues to present it or people to see it, and yet theatre-makers struggle to get bookings, programmers tell us that they can’t find suitable work and attracting an audience is everyone’s biggest challenge.

‘This is where greenhouse begins. We are seed-funding new pieces of theatre that respond to the ambitions of the theatre-makers as well as the venues and connect with people that they might ultimately hope to speak to as an audience.’