The Musical Theatre & Drama Education Show: programme announced

+The CPD programme has launched with a host of expects on hand to run workshops and seminars at the inaugural free MTDES. Sarah Lambie reports.

logoAs we announced with much excitement in the last issue of TD, London Olympia is to host the first ever Musical Theatre & Drama Education show on 25 and 26 February 2016 and it’s completely free for you to attend. The two day expo will feature stalls from many companies and organisations offering educational resources, technical knowledge, items for hire, books for sale, and advice – find a list of exhibitors on the website. But that’s not all: the extensive programme of CPD workshops and seminars has now also been announced (with a few surprises yet to be added to the list). Whichever day you attend, you’ll have the opportunity to benefit from the expert knowledge of speakers on subjects as varied as policy and funding, curriculum and exams, and new trends and approaches.

Though here I’m focussing only on the workshops geared towards attendees of the MTDES, the show shares its space with the enormously successful Music Education Expo, so you can come with your music department colleagues and indulge in some department crossover learning – why not attend a session on playing the spoons at the MEE and bring your colleague in to an MTDES session exploring practitioner Rudolf Laban’s work for performance?

As well as the interactive sessions, lectures and seminars, there will be performances and fireside chats on both days, featuring experts and stars who will be announced a little nearer the time.

While not everything has yet been announced, I thought I’d offer a walk-through of some of those sessions which have, and which you might choose if you’re attending on either or both days.

Day One: 25 February 2016:

Both days will begin with a warm-up, and all delegates are invited to attend and stretch their muscles vocal, physical and mental. Day one’s warm-up will be an opportunity to sing: that’ll wake us all up effectively!

After that, at 10 o’clock, performing arts teacher Matt Yeoman offers his expertise on producing an outstanding school musical: ‘Unlock the true potential of the school production and what it can do in terms of improving attitudes to learning, gaining accreditation for students’ contributions, and discover how arts staff – particularly drama and music practitioners – can work collaboratively to produce an outstanding piece of work, catering for a large number of students to maximise its impact on the student populous.’
In her 11:10 session ‘Serious Play’, Dymphna Callery presents an interactive workshop focussing on ‘play’ as an indispensable tool both for analysis and as a catalyst for creative approached to interpreting text.

At lunchtime there will be a yet-to-be-announced performance and some opportunity to explore the exhibitors, but we’ll also be having a ‘fireside chat’ with playwright Mark Wheeller, who wrote To Much Punch For Judy, among other plays – a work which is extremely familiar to drama teachers all over the UK.

After Lunch I will be heading to the session on Alexander Technique: Something I’ve never tried and have heard really great things about. Offered by the Royal College of Music’s in-house specialist movement practitioner, this is something which will be applicable to all attendees at the show, whether music, drama or performing arts teachers.

Next there’s a sample drama lesson to take part in, ‘Forbidden Fruit’, in which Amanda Kipling of Goldsmiths demonstrates how to hide assessment for learning in a lesson plan, so that it happens automatically – integrated along the way.

Finally, Nick O’Brien from Stanislavski Experience offers a practical approach to teaching practitioners 0 he’s basically a walking, talking version of the practitioner focus pages you’ll find in each issue of TD, and he’ll trouble shoot your practitioner teaching techniques in time for the new syllabuses and their set practitioners.

Day 2: 26 February 2016:

On day two, the warm-up is to be a drama session. Again, like everything at both shows, this open to all delegates, so you can rub shoulders with music teachers and feel a sense of quiet smugness that you’re in your comfort zone as David Farmer offers a wake-up call for the day’s activities.

The first sessions of day two present a real dilemma for me – whether to bust performance anxiety difficulties with a session on mindfulness for performers, or learn from Keith Burt about the fascinating idea of ‘Flipped Learning’ – a totally new way of approaching the dissemination of knowledge among your students.

Then there’s a watch-this-space to put in your timetable for the day: we’ll be announcing a session at 11:15 which will be of use to every drama attendee…more on this in due course.

Performances and fireside chats brighten the lunchtime lull, with an opportunity to listen and watch rather than getting hands-on, and of course there are the exhibitor stands to explore, but then I’ll be heading to Sarah Henderson’s session on ‘Laban in performance’, which will have us back on our feet and exploring a theory of movement which is applicable to life as well as drama and musical theatre.

Finally I’ve a choice of energetic ends to my day: a musical theatre vocal workshop with the ladies from Starling Arts: ‘Everything I know I learned from a musical’ or another yet-to-be-announced practical session from which you’ll be able to steal some tips to take back to school and throw something new into your next school production, or your students’ devising toolbox. More to come!

If you haven’t signed up yet, go to to do so, and then don’t forget to follow @TheMTDES on twitter and check back for updates, as more information will be released gradually in the run-up to the event.

We can’t wait!

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