Booking open for Kids Week 2015

Fancy learning ballet with Billy Elliot? (Credit: Alastair Muir)

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
Dinosaur Zoo
The Gruffalo
The 3 Little Pigs

(For ages five and up)
Billy Elliot The Musical
Charlie And The Chocolate Factory
The Commitments
The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time
The Lion King
Hetty Feather
Horrible Histories: Barmy Britain – Part Three!

I Believe In Unicorns
Let It Be
Lord Of The Dance: Dangerous Games
Mamma Mia!
Matilda The Musical
Les Misérables
The Phantom Of The Opera
The Railway Children
Sinatra: The Man & His Music
Stomp
Thriller Live
War Horse
Wicked
The 39 Steps

(Parental guidance advised)
Bend It Like Beckham The Musical
Dusty
The Importance Of Being Earnest
Impossible
Memphis The Musical
The Mousetrap
The Play That Goes Wrong
Seven Brides For Seven Brothers
Sunny Afternoon
The Woman In Black

(For ages 15+)
American Idiot
Jersey Boys
The Mentalists
Miss Saigon
1984

School site-specific production for 2015 National Youth Theatre season

The National Youth Theatre presents Homegrown created Nadia Latif  and Omar El Khairy Photo by Helen Maybanks.jpg

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.

The National Youth Theatre presents Consensual by Evan Placey at the Ambassadors Theatre Photo by Helen Maybanks.jpg

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.

Young Vic and Sunny Afternoon win big at 2015 Olivier Awards

Young Vic's A View from the Bridge wins a hat-trick at the Olivier Awards (Credit: Jan Versweyveld)

Young Vic’s A View from the Bridge wins a hat-trick at the Olivier Awards (Credit: Jan Versweyveld)

This year’s Olivier Awards have seen The Young Vic take away four prizes, picking up the award for outstanding achievement in an affiliate theatre for its production of Bull, and scoring a hat-trick for A View from the Bridge winning best revival, best director for Ivo van Hove and best actor for Mark Strong.

Accepting his award, Strong reflected on how A View from the Bridge had drawn in young audience members: ‘What has been amazing is the young people who came to see it, they all wanted to talk about what they were seeing. A 12-year-old boy asked me what is the purpose of theatre – I’ve never been in a production people wanted to talk about more.’

Kinks jukebox musical Sunny Afternoon dominated the musical categories, taking four out of five awards it was nominated for, winning: outstanding achievement in music, best actor in a supporting role in a musical for George Maguire, best actor in a musical for John Dagleish, and the title for best new musical.

Sunny Afternoon was the big musical winner of the evening (Credit: Alastair Muir)

Sunny Afternoon was the big musical winner of the evening (Credit: Alastair Muir)

Despite receiving 17 nominations between them, both Memphis the Musical and Beautiful – The Carole King Musical took home just two prizes each – best sound design and best theatre choreographer for Memphis, and Beautiful’s actresses taking best actress in a supporting role in a musical for Lorna Want and best actress in a musical for Katie Brayben.

Other highlights of the evening included the presentation of the best actress in a supporting role award to Angela Lansbury. Receiving her first Olivier Award aged 89 to a standing ovation, the actress said: ‘I’m creeping up to 90 and feeling like a million dollars because I’m in London.’ Lansbury’s role in Blithe Spirit at the Gielgud Theatre is her first in the West End in 40 years. In celebration of his tenure as artistic director at the Old Vic, Kevin Spacey was presented with a special award by Judi Dench. Spacey is due to step down from his role this autumn, to be succeeded by Matthew Warchus.

Olivier Award winners 2015

Best revival
A View from the Bridge at the Young Vic and Wyndham’s Theatre

Best actor in a supporting role
Nathaniel Parker for Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies at the Aldwych Theatre

Best actress in a supporting role
Angela Lansbury for Blithe Spirit at the Gielgud Theatre

Best entertainment and family
La Soiree at La Soiree Spiegeltent

Best lighting design
Howard Harrison for City of Angels at the Donmar Warehouse

Best sound design
Gareth Owen for Memphis the Musical at the Shaftesbury Theatre

Best costume design
Christopher Oram for Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies at the Aldwych Theatre

Best set design
Es Devlin for The Nether at the Duke of York’s Theatre

Best new dance production
32 Rue Vandenbranden by Peeping Tom at the Barbican;
Mats Ek’s Juliet and Romeo by Royal Swedish Ballet at Sadler’s Wells

Outstanding achievement in dance
Crystal Pite for her choreography in the productions of The Associates – A Picture Of You Falling, The Tempest Replica and Polaris at Sadler’s Wells

Best new play
King Charles III at the Almeida Theatre and Wyndham’s Theatre

Best actor
Mark Strong for A View from the Bridge at the Young Vic and Wyndham’s Theatre

Best actress
Penelope Wilton for Taken At Midnight at the Theatre Royal Haymarket

Audience award
Wicked at the Apollo Victoria Theatre

Best new comedy
The Play That Goes Wrong at the Duchess Theatre

Best musical revival
City of Angels at the Donmar Warehouse

Outstanding achievement in an affiliate theatre
Bull at the Maria at the Young Vic

Best theatre choreographer
Sergio Trujillo for Memphis The Musical at the Shaftesbury Theatre

Best director
Ivo van Hove for A View from the Bridge at the Young Vic and Wyndham’s Theatre

Outstanding achievement in music
Ray Davies for Sunny Afternoon at Hampstead Theatre and the Harold Pinter Theatre

Best actor in a supporting role in a musical
George Maguire for Sunny Afternoon at Hampstead Theatre and the Harold Pinter Theatre

Best actress in a supporting role in a musical
Lorna Want for Beautiful – The Carole King Musical at the Aldwych Theatre

Best actor in a musical
John Dagleish for Sunny Afternoon at Hampstead Theatre and the Harold Pinter Theatre

Best actress in a musical
Katie Brayben for Beautiful – The Carole King Musical at the Aldwych Theatre

Best new musical
Sunny Afternoon at Hampstead Theatre and the Harold Pinter Theatre

Winners of The Mousetraps 2015 announced

The awards

The 2015 awards for The Mousetraps

The fourth annual edition of theatre awards ‘The Mousetraps’ took place on 22 March at the Charing Cross Theatre. The Mousetraps, voted for by young theatregoers aged 15 to 23, are organised by Mousetrap Theatre Projects: a theatre education charity widening access to performance for young people with limited means and support or special needs.

The awards honoured West End favourites such as Wicked, presented with the prize for show I’d sell my soul to be in; Billy Elliot, winning fascinating storyline; STOMP, picking up most dazzling choreography; and Les Misérables, named musical that blew my mind.

Other theatre favourites such as War Horse and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time also came away with prizes, for best play and best design respectively. The Scottsboro Boys was presented with the award for best ensemble and The Book of Mormon won the title for show that split my sides.

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Martin Freeman accepting his award for best male performer at The Mousetraps (Credit: @ZareenWalker)

The Mousetraps’ acting awards went to two major stage and screen stars: Gemma Arterton, who was named best female performer for her lead role in Made in Dagenham, and Martin Freeman, who collected his title for best male performer for Richard III in person.

The ceremony, compered by members of Mousetrap’s Youth Forum, was opened by actor Samuel J Holmes. The presentation of awards was accompanied by performances from young people, featuring street dance, performance poetry, musical improvisation and Shakespearean monologues.

To see more from the 2015 Mousetraps, check out the Twitter hashtag #MousetrapAwards. For more information about Mousetrap Theatre Projects, visit www.mousetrap.org.uk.

The MTA to relocate to Tottenham

Bernie_Grant_Arts_Centre_JL_001

The MTA’s new home: The Bernie Grant Arts Centre in Tottenham

The MTA has announced that from July 2015 it will be taking up residence at the Bernie Grant Arts Centre in Tottenham. From 2016, four of the college’s six shows a year will be performed in BGAC’s state-of-the-art theatre, with the showcase and original musical remaining at the Bridewell Theatre.

Annemarie Lewis Thomas, MTA’s principal and founder says: ‘We were very flattered to be approached by BGAC in the first place, then the more I found out about the programme over there, the synergy between the two organisations was rather compelling. Having spent our Christmas over there, and having had the most wonderful welcome from all the staff, we are really looking forward to the move and the opportunities that our new space will provide us with.’

The MTA’s Christmas pantomime, Beauty and the Beast, was performed to over 2,000 local residents, half of which were local children, as part of the college’s ‘pay what you can’ scheme.

Sarah Ebanja, chair of the arts centre, says: ‘The BGAC team are delighted that The MTA will make our arts centre complex their home. The MTA will bring an added vibrancy to what is already an artistic and creative hub. Their work will inspire and will enable Tottenham’s local residents, and young people in particular, to engage meaningfully with the performance arts.’

Annemarie Lewis Thomas features as TD spring 2’s opinion columnist. Read her thoughts on accreditation in the issue, out now.

Premiere of short political plays series by acclaimed playwrights

A new series of short plays inspired by the tension between art and politics are to be performed in London this month. Offstage Theatre, in association with Theatre Uncut, commissioned 11 playwrights for ‘Walking the Tightrope: The Tension between Art and Politics’ to write in response to issues of censorship and boycott in the arts.

The playwrights taking part in the project include Caryl Churchill, Ryan Craig, April De Angelis, Tim Fountain, Hannah Khalil, Neil LaBute, Hattie Naylor, Julia Pascal, Evan Placey, Mark Ravenhill and Sarah Solemani.

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Actors Melissa Woodbridge and Syrus Lowe rehearse for ‘Walking the Tightrope’ (Credit: Grace Gummer)

Participating writer in the project Neil LaBute said: ‘I’m hugely excited to be a part of Walking the Tightrope – a collection of short plays by a group of terrific writers about the freedom of expression. I feel really lucky to be included as this theme has always been an important one in my own work and the form that is being used – the five-minute play – is a wonderful and difficult one to master.

‘If you care about humanity, then you care about the arts. If you care about the arts, you need to support this kind of work. In my mind, there is nothing that can’t be said or seen on the stage. I think Walking the Tightrope intends to prove that many times over, five minutes at a time.’

The resultant plays will be performed from 26–31 January at Theatre Delicatessen in Farringdon, London. Each performance will be followed by a post-show discussion featuring panels comprising political pundits, journalists, artistic directors, campaigners, artists and academics.

For more information on ‘Walking the Tightrope’, visit www.offstage.org.uk/shows/Walking-the-Tightrope.html. To book tickets, visit http://walkingthetightrope.brownpapertickets.com.

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TD to host teacher workshop sessions at PERFORM 2015

Teaching Drama is delighted to announce that we’ll be partnering up with 2015’s PERFORM, which will be celebrating its fifth anniversary from 13–15 February 2015 at London Olympia. Each year PERFORM runs workshops and seminars for people involved or looking to build a career in the performing arts. 2015’s available sessions exceed 60 in number.

There’s a huge range of workshops  and seminars on off er at PERFORM

There’s a huge range of workshops
and seminars on offer at PERFORM

TD have worked with PERFORM to create the ‘Teaching Drama magazine workshop series’: a specially crafted programme for teachers which will run on the Saturday (14 February). The first of the three workshops, ‘Contemporary theatre practitioners’, will explore the methods of contemporary theatre companies for inclusion in KS4/5 study programmes to fulfil practitioner-inspired modules. The session will be led by a member of one of the UK’s most innovative physical theatre groups, Frantic Assembly.

The second session in the TD series, ‘Preparing students for written papers’, will be a teachers’ seminar with representatives from the leading exam boards – looking at what students need to do to meet assessment criteria in both written and performance exams at KS4 and 5.

For teachers looking to brush up their technical theatre skills, the third workshop will look at how to make the best use of a limited school lighting rig and what you can do to bring your productions to life with a member from leading entertainment lighting specialists White Light.

As well as TD’s workshop series for teachers, there are other sessions running throughout the three days for teachers, ran by the National Theatre, Trinity College London and Bodens College of Performing Arts. For full details of the programme, visit the PERFORM website.

All of the workshops, each costing £3 for admittance, are now open to book now at www.performshow.co.uk; limited spaces are available, so early booking is advised.

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Subscribe to Teaching Drama as a print or digital edition now for more news, features and information. Single issues are also available in print and digital from just £2.49.

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 

Matthew Warchus to succeed Spacey at The Old Vic

The Old Vic appoints a new artistic director (Credit: Jim Linwood)

The Old Vic appoints a new artistic director (Credit: Jim Linwood)

The Old Vic has announced that Matthew Warchus will succeed Kevin Spacey when steps down as the theatre’s artistic director in autumn 2015.

Warchus is currently working as The Old Vic’s artistic associate. In 2008 he directed outgoing artistic director Spacey and Jeff Goldblum in Speed-the-Plow. He has worked on over 70 productions in London and Broadway including Matilda the Musical.

Nick Clarry, chairman of The Old Vic Theatre Trust said of Warchus’s appointment: ‘We are delighted to have appointed an artistic director with the talent and track record of Matthew Warchus. This is a key appointment for The Old Vic, building on the many achievements of Kevin Spacey since 2004.

‘We believe that the next few years will be a very exciting time. Our goals are to continue to develop our artistic programme under Matthew’s leadership, to continue with our outreach work, to establish an endowment fund, and then to redevelop our historic building after the bicentenary in 2018.’

Kevin Spacey said he ‘couldn’t be happier’ with Warchus’s appointment. ‘Matthew is a thoughtful, intuitive and highly creative director and he has rightly been applauded for his work, in particular the quality and diversity of his portfolio. I know he loves our theatre and I am delighted for our staff, our audiences and for our acting and production communities that he will be its next guardian.’

Matthew Warchus said: ‘I am excited and honoured to be following Kevin’s galvanising tenure at this wonderful building. He has re-established The Old Vic as a globally important theatre and I look forward to continuing to develop it as a hub of invigorating creativity.’

U-turn over English Baccalaureate plans

Michael_Gove_croppedThe government has dropped plans to replace GCSEs for English Baccularate Certificates following concerns from the Commons Select Committee on education.

Education secretary Michael Gove has now twice had his plans for GCSE reform rejected, as he had originally intended for GCSEs to return to the era of CSE’s and O levels.

Gove described the implementation of the Ebacc as, ‘one reform too far’. Students were due to begin studying under the new qualifications in 2015.

The backtrack has been due to concerns raised by MPs, including deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, exam regulator Ofqual, teachers and students. One of the suggested reasons that Gove was prompted to make the decision to abandon the Ebacc was that his intention to have one exam board to act as provider for a particular subject might be in contention with EU regulations. Exam boards too had expressed their concerns with the new measures.

While GCSEs will remain, they will be subject to major reform: Gove is keen to reduce coursework and modules in order to rid students of ‘bite-size learning and spoon feeding’.

When questioned by the MP for Slough, Fiona Mactaggart, about the place of creative subjects as part of the reconstructed National Curriculum, Gove stated that: ‘Artistic and creative subjects are central to a broad education.’

Speaking in the House of Commons, the education secretary said: ‘Let’s work together, as we have so successfully on other issues, to ensure children get the high quality education they deserve.’