Last year’s Playing Shakespeare with Deutsche Bank production, The Merchant of Venice (Credit: Amit Lennon)
Shakespeare’s Globe has announced that 2016’s Playing Shakespeare schools’ production will be Twelfth Night, running from 25 February–18 March 2016. Secondary state schools in London and Birmingham are eligible for an unlimited number of free tickets for weekday performances at 2pm during the period 25 February–10 March, and for the 7pm performance on 1 March.
State schools outside the London and Birmingham areas, as well as independent schools and colleges, can book reduced rate tickets ranging from £5 to £15 for weekday performances at 2pm during the period 11–18 March.
Supporting the production will be free schools’ workshops, launching in December, CPD sessions for teachers, classroom resources, and a dedicated Twelfth Night website which will launch in January next year.
Othello was 2015’s Playing Shakespeare production (Credit: Cesare DeGiglio)
The play, specially designed for GCSE and A-level students, will fit the National Curriculum specification for KS3 (where students are required to study two of Shakespeare’s plays) and KS4 (where students are assessed on one of the Bard’s works).
The Playing Shakespeare initiative will celebrate its tenth anniversary in 2016. Through Globe Education’s partnership with Deutsche Bank, Playing Shakespeare has presented over 117,000 free tickets to schools, with over 70% of schools taking part from every London borough.
Stage On Screen’s filmed production of The Duchess of Malfi will be available to watch via Drama Online from October
Drama Online, a subscription study resource available to schools, colleges and higher education institutions, is expanding its resource offering this autumn with video content. Partnerships with organisations such Shakespeare’s Globe and Stage On Screen will see more than 60 hours of material added to the site.
Drama Online’s partnership with Shakespeare’s Globe will add 21 productions to its collection, with further shows to be added. Shakespeare’s Globe’s artistic director, Dominic Dromgoole, says: ‘In Drama Online, Bloomsbury and Faber & Faber have created a fantastic portal for students, and we’re delighted that Globe productions will be some of the first video content on offer there.’
Stage On Screen will be contributing high-definition filmed productions from Greenwich Theatre of The Duchess of Malfi, Doctor Faustus, School for Scandal, and Volpone; and Manchester Royal Exchange’s Hamlet starring Maxine Peake will also feature among the new content.
As well as the filmed productions, Drama Online will be adding a six-hour Shakespeare acting masterclass with Guildhall School of Music and Drama’s head of voice Patsy Rodenburg, featuring movement, speech, body and warm-up exercises.
Applications are now open for programme ideas for the inaugural Musical Theatre & Drama Education Show.
Launching in February 2016 at Olympia Central in London, the Musical Theatre & Drama Education Show will be co-located with the Music Education Expo, going into its fourth successful year, as a new performing arts element to the Expo’s CPD offerings.
To be considered for the 2016 programme, prospective speakers need to complete an online form at http://www.musiceducationexpo.co.uk/call-for-papers-2016, clearly indicating the aims of the suggested seminar, who the intended audience would be, the learning objectives and relevant key stages, as well as providing a detailed overview of the content in a lesson plan format. An advisory board of education practitioners will shape the 2016 programme from the submitted proposals.
Sarah Lambie, head of content for the Musical Theatre & Drama Education Show and editor of Teaching Drama magazine, said of the call for papers: ‘We’d like to hear from educators and experts in fields as wide-ranging as education psychology, curriculum and exam preparation, technology, education policy, and practitioner techniques.’
The Unicorn Theatre, one of the UK’s leading theatres dedicated to producing work for young people, has reported a six per cent drop in school group visits during the period from August 2014 to June 2015 compared to the previous year. The theatre has also experienced an increase in cancellations from school groups.
Unicorn’s learning associate Catherine Greenwood said in response to the figures: ‘We are hearing from some teachers and head teachers that they are finding it increasingly difficult to justify the time out of the classroom. With schools facing cuts to budgets in the next financial year, and with the government recently announcing plans to make the Ebacc compulsory in all schools, this situation will only get worse.’
Unicorn Theatre’s production of The Velveteen Rabbit (Credit: Manuel Harlan)
The Warwick Report, published in February this year, found that young people from low-income families are least likely to engage with and appreciate the arts as part of the school curriculum or their home life. Greenwood thinks there is a ‘serious danger’ that the current climate will create a ‘two-tier system: those schools who choose to make the arts available to their students and those who don’t.’ Greenwood believes that letting such a system take hold would be ‘failing many young people’.
‘We need schools, head teachers and governing bodies to actively redress this imbalance if we are to ensure students from all backgrounds have access to theatre. A visit to the theatre can provide schools with a rich context for learning across the curriculum – which many teachers take advantage of, and we have first-hand experience showing that it improves literacy and learning among less-able students in particular.’
Fancy learning ballet with Billy Elliot? (Credit: Alastair Muir)
Tickets are on sale now for this year’s Kids Week performances through the whole month of August. The month-long theatre initiative, run by Official London Theatre, offers free tickets to children aged 16 and under, when accompanied by a full-paying adult, with two extra children’s tickets available for purchase at half price, per transaction.
Kids Week, marking its 18th year this summer, has a line-up for 2015 featuring 45 London shows, including West End favourites Matilda The Musical, The Lion King, Billy Elliot The Musical and War Horse, as well as newcomers such as Bend It Like Beckham The Musical.
As well offering tickets to performances, Kids Week also runs a series of show-related activities and workshops open to Kids Week ticket holders for that day’s performance. Activities for 2015 include: a puppet workshop from The Lion King, discovering how Jacqueline Wilson’s Hetty Feather made the journey from page to stage, learning comedy improvisation from the team behind The Play That Goes Wrong, and a Billy Elliot the Musical-inspired dance class with one of the current Billy Elliots performing in London.
Tickets can be booked online (www.kidsweek.co.uk) or by phone (0844 248 5151). No booking or postage fees apply.
Shows included in this year’s Kids Week 2015 are:
(For ages three and up) Aliens Love Underpants
Ben And Holly’s Little Kingdom
The 3 Little Pigs
(For ages five and up) Billy Elliot The Musical
Charlie And The Chocolate Factory
The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time
The Lion King
Horrible Histories: Barmy Britain – Part Three! I Believe In Unicorns
Let It Be
Lord Of The Dance: Dangerous Games
Matilda The Musical
The Phantom Of The Opera
The Railway Children
Sinatra: The Man & His Music
The 39 Steps
(Parental guidance advised) Bend It Like Beckham The Musical
The Importance Of Being Earnest
Memphis The Musical
The Play That Goes Wrong
Seven Brides For Seven Brothers
The Woman In Black
(For ages 15+) American Idiot
UCAS Conservatoires received a record 7,985 applications in 2014, with around two-thirds of applicants applying to undergraduate courses. UCAS Conservatoires manages applications to performance-based music, dance and drama courses at eight conservatoires in the UK. All offer music, with two also offering dance and two offering drama.
According to a report from the organisation, the number of students who received places within the conservatoire sector increased by 10% between 2013 and 2014.
Music courses had the highest number of applicants and acceptances, but undergraduate drama and dance courses were particularly competitive. Only one in 20 applicants to drama courses were accepted, while one in 12 applicants to dance courses through UCAS Conservatoires received a place.
Young people from the least advantaged areas of the UK are more likely to apply and to enter conservatoires compared to four years ago; however, the most advantaged 20% of young people in the UK remain around six times more likely to enter courses at conservatoires than the least advantaged group.
Hilary Boulding, chair of Conservatoires UK, said: ‘The cultural and creative industries are the fastest growing industry in the UK, a trend mirrored by the 10% increase in acceptances to conservatoires announced today. These professions look to the UK’s conservatoires to provide them with a regular flow of talent. This is a field in which the UK excels and our graduates continue to succeed at the forefront of a global industry.’
Homegrown, a site-specific production set in a school in Bethnal Green, forms part of the NYT’s new season (Credit: Helen Maybanks)
A brand new play inspired by news earlier this year of three Bethnal Green schoolgirls’ journey to Syria to join militant group Isis will feature among the National Youth Theatre’s new season. Homegrown, created by director Nadia Latif and writer Omar El-Khairy, explores the implications of radicalism and extremism on people and communities behind the headlines. The site-specific production, featuring a huge cast of 113, will be performed at Raines Foundation Upper School in Bethnal Green in August.
NYT returns to the Ambassadors Theatre this autumn for its third West End rep season featuring a company of sixteen 18-25 year olds. The season is set to include: an adaptation of Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights from Stephanie Street; a production of Tom Stoppard’s abridged version of The Merchant of Venice for schools; and new play Consensual, exploring teenage hormones, teacher-student relationships and the UK’s age of consent, written by Evan Placey – the playwright behind Girls Like That and Pronoun. Placey’s new play will be the focus of a Sky Arts documentary this summer, which will follow cast and crew as they develop Consensual.
Evan Placey’s Consensual will feature in the NYT’s West End rep season and will also be the focus of a Sky Arts documentary this summer (Credit: Helen Maybanks)
At the launch of the new season, NYT’s artistic director Paul Roseby said: ‘This season will celebrate the diversity, vibrancy and talent of Britain’s youth, with fearless new voices. Much has been said about the current challenges young people from disadvantaged and “diverse” backgrounds face trying to access our industry. We are the only company in the UK putting brave young talent on the West End stage in front of large audiences in a season of this scale.
‘I call on those concerned about access to do something about it by supporting the National Youth Theatre’s free opportunities. They are accessible to all, empower talented young people to learn on stage in front of an audience and lead to professional employment in the creative industries.’
Homegrown will run at Raines Foundation Upper School, Bethnal Green from 12–27 August; NYT’s West End rep season at the Ambassadors Theatre runs from 18 September to 4 December. For more information on these productions and others among the NYT 2015 season, visit www.nyt.org.uk.
The Department for Education announced in February the subject contents for GCSE, AS and A-level drama to be taught from 2016, so in our Summer 2 issue of Teaching Drama, out now, we’re asking our panellists:
What is your view? Vote in our poll and comment below. Read the views of our panellists in Summer 2 2014-15, where the issue also includes a ‘Curriculum focus’ column, outlining a basic summary of the guidelines on which exam boards are currently finalising their new specifications.
Students from WAPA and UNLV performed with an eight-hour time difference between them
Students from Weston-super-Mare and Las Vegas have taken part in what is thought to be a world-first performance: producing a virtually linked transatlantic stage show. Students from Wessex Academy of Performing Arts (WAPA) at Weston College and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) performed their show Time Lapse simultaneously with 5,000 miles and an eight-hour time difference separating the two casts.
Ged Stephenson, Weston College’s HE curriculum co-ordinator for performing arts degrees, said: ‘There were no time delays in the visuals and only a very slight one in sound. The video link was done using ultra-grids, which are really advanced computers that have been created by UNLV.’
The partnership between WAPA and UNLV was established 18 months ago when Weston lecturer Sylvia Lane approached UNLV about forming a relationship between the two organisations. Last year UNLV’s professor of acting and professor of dance visited Weston College to run masterclasses for students, which formed the basis of the Time Lapse joint performance project.
The cast had to create a devised performance having never met other than virtually
Stephenson explained some of the challenges faced when developing the project: ‘Clearly, there were many technical difficulties/challenges that our technical team had to overcome. On top of this, we had to establish a working pattern that allowed for the fact that half of the company was in Vegas and the other half in Weston. Furthermore, most rehearsals needed to take place after 5pm UK time due to the eight hours Vegas were behind us.’
The practical logistics were not the only challenges to be tackled by the transatlantic group: ‘The UNLV students were not used to devised theatre. It is not something regularly taught in America. Our students use it every day. This meant that tasks we set the cast seemed natural to our cast but unusual, initially, to the UNLV cast. Gradually, we all worked out a way of dealing with this to allow us to develop an intelligent and well-structured piece of devised theatre.’