The MTA to relocate to Tottenham

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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.

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.

Orchestra of the Swan nominated for community project fund

The Orchestra of the Swan (OOTS) has made it to the final nominations for Big Lottery and ITV’s People’s Millions – in which the public help to decide which local community projects receive up to £50,000 worth of lottery funding.

OOTS, which performs in Birmingham, Bedford, Shipston, Pershore and Stratford-upon-Avon specialises in working with children and young people with learning and physical disabilities. The project which they are hoping to fund is Antony and Cleopatra – The Musical!: ‘60 minutes of spectacle and madcap humour’, helping children develop self-confidence, new skills and independence through creating a high quality piece of work with professional musicians and singers. The piece was specially written for pupils at Brays and Welcombe Hills Special Schools. A year of workshops will lead to a final performance in 2015.

Voting for Antony and Cleopatra – The Musical! Takes place on 26 November, and OOTS will be appearing on Central TV to talk about the project. The telephone number will be published in the Daily Mirror on the day. A date for the diaries of teachers, parents and supporters in the Midlands and elsewhere.

www.orchestraoftheswan.org