Free tickets to all London and Birmingham secondary schools for 2016’s Playing Shakespeare

"Playing Shakespear with Deutsche Bank", PSWDB, at the Globe Theatre. School children get the chance to see a Shakepear play "The Merchant of Venice" performed at the Globe. Date: 12 March 2014 Photograph by Amit Lennon

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.

London, 26th February 2015: Othello at Shakespeare’s Globe, directed by Bill Buckhurst, as part of Globe Education’s Playing Shakespeare with Deutsche Bank 2015

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.

Booking for Playing Shakespeare’s production Twelfth Night opens in September; www.shakespearesglobe.com/playing-shakespeare.

Call for papers for 2016’s Musical Theatre & Drama Education Show

MTDExpo 2016 logo 1.inddApplications 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 deadline for submissions is 21 August 2015.

For more information about the Musical Theatre & Drama Education Show, visit www.musicaltheatredrama.co.uk.

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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VAULT Festival announces ‘mini’ festival for under 11s

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Pirates of the Carabina will perform extracts of their show Flown as part of the inaugural Mini VAULT (Credit: Cryingoutloud.org)

This year’s VAULT Festival – opening on 28 January for six weeks of performances, events and workshops at Leake Street’s tunnels in London Waterloo – will include an inaugural Mini VAULT festival for under 11s, with three weekends of underground shows, events and free activities for families.

Highlights of Mini VAULT will include Comedy Club 4 Kids, in which stand-up comedians and sketch artists perform their work for children aged six and above and their families; British and international circus performers Pirates of the Carabina performing excerpts of their show Flown; all-female performance company Figs in Wigs bring their performance Show Off, showcasing their mix of theatre, comedy and dance for children aged eight+; and Greenlight Theatre will present their interactive children’s show for ages three and up, Albee Vector the Sound Collector. As well as performances, Mini VAULT will also run a range of workshops.

Show Off Christa Holka Low Res

All-female performance group Figs with Wigs bring Show Off to 2015’s Mini VAULT (Credit: Christa Holka)

The main VAULT Festival programme has plenty to offer adult attendees. IdeasTap will host a selection of their free spa sessions each Saturday of the festival. The first sessions taking place on 31 January will be ‘A Beginners Guide to Writing For The Stage’ and ‘How To Take A Show To Edinburgh’; on 7 February, Snapdragon Productions will offer their advice on ‘Setting Up a Theatre Company’, and the Rhum and Clay Theatre Company will run sessions on ‘Creating Theatre Without Words’ (28 February) and ‘An Introduction to Le Coq’ (21 February). All of the IdeasTap sessions are free, but booking is required as spaces are limited.

VAULT has a range of workshops on offer for 2015’s festival, including live performance arts and entertainment company Artful Badger’s session on ‘wall-running’,  Scaffold State Theatre Company’s guide to  adapting an ancient drama into a modern text in 30 minutes, and a workshop in improvising and devising for performance led by Needless Alley Collective.

Also taking place throughout the festival will be discussions as part of ‘VAULT Panels: Join the debate’. On 8 February, ‘The Big Arts Debate’ will take place, looking at ‘Cultural policy and the future for UK theatre and the arts’. Other highlights in the Panels programme include ‘Elephant in the room: What is the social responsibility of The Arts?’ (20 February) and ‘The Female Force Forum: The Future for Women in Theatre’ (7 March). The Panels discussions are free to attend, but require booking.

VAULT Festival runs from 28 January to 8 March; Mini VAULT runs on the weekends of 7–8 February, 21–22 February and 7–8 March. For more details, visit www.vaultfestival.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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Almeida Theatre takes Our Town performances and project into London schools

The Almeida Theatre is taking the full production of one of its latest shows, Our Town, into two London secondary schools this November, reaching 500 students.

Our Town 1-715 Laura Elsworthy, David Walmsley and Jessica Lester by Marc Brenner

Laura Elsworthy, David Walmsley and Jessica Lester in Our Town (Credit: Marc Brenner)

The cast of the current run at the Almeida will perform at Dormers Wells High School in Ealing on 10 November and Cleeve Park School in Bexley on 17 November for students. Neither of the London boroughs housing the schools, Ealing and Bexley, has a professional theatre. Students attending performances will take part in pre-show workshops.

The performances will make up part of a wider six-week programme entitled ‘Your Town’, which will involve students telling stories of their own towns of Southall and Sidcup through exploring the idea of community and creating video content.

Almeida’s artistic director Rupert Goold said of the project: ‘The work that Almeida Projects does with schools and young people is enormously inspiring, and I am so glad that we are able to continue to find exciting ways to bring our work to more young people across London.’

For more information on the ‘Your Town’ project, visit www.almeida.co.uk/education/schools-and-education/your-town.

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Theatre casualties in Arts Council national portfolio announcement

Richard Frame (Hermia), Thomas Padden (Theseus) & Sam Swainsbury (Demetrius)

Propeller in performance: the theatre company’s future is thrown into doubt without Art Council funding

Arts Council England (ACE) has revealed the organisations who will, and will not, be part of their national portfolio for 2015–18. All-male Shakespeare company Propeller, Orange Tree Theatre in Richmond and radical touring company Red Ladder have not made ACE’s portfolio list, resulting in loss of funding.

Propeller were told by the ACE, ‘’We decided that, taking into account the quality and level of your artform provision available nationally, we preferred other applications.’ Responding to ACE’s comments, the company and Propeller’s director Edward Hall said: ‘Whilst a lack of commitment from ACE to high-quality touring theatre on a financial basis is perhaps understandable, Propeller’s national reach and quality of work cannot be called into question as our track record amply demonstrates. I am sorry that this decision will prevent us from continuing to pursue our national touring programme which has delighted so many thousands of people and which will prevent our company from pursuing its commitment to delivering affordable, high-quality drama in the regions.’

News of Orange Tree Theatre’s funding loss from the ACE came as the new artistic director Paul Miller began his first day in the role. He told BBC news: ‘I think the big, national contradictory pressures that are on the Arts Council were just so great that something had to give – and on that occasion it was us.

‘Once upon a time, the Orange Tree was a fledgling start-up company that had its first Arts Council funding. For new younger companies to get into the system, it means that existing organisations cannot simply take for granted that they will continue to be regularly funded. There are still many ways in which we can continue to take wonderful theatre in our lovely space. We just have to find a financially different way of doing it.’

Other organisations face smaller cuts: The Barbican will lose 18% of funding, while The Southbank Centre, National Theatre and Royal Shakespeare Company will each receive a 3.6% reduction.

Some theatre organisations enjoyed a boost, with increases in funding for Unicorn of 28% and Hull Truck of 46%; welcome news for Hull Truck following the ACE’s assessment of the theatre company earlier this year as facing ‘immediate and serious financial risk’.

This year saw a 2% rise in the allocation of funding to regional companies, with 47% dedicated to organisations in London and 53% to those outside of the capital.

ACE chair Sir Peter Bazalgette said of the portfolio announcements: ‘We are in the premier league of creative nations and this portfolio will keep us on top in an era of tight funding. We can delight in our arts organisations and museums for the sheer inspiration they bring to our daily lives as well as their contribution to the creative sector. I’m proud that we’ve been able to deliver such a strong and well balanced portfolio.

‘With 46 new entrants to the national portfolio, with increased funding for grants for the arts, and with creative people and places being maintained at its current level over the next period, this settlement represents a commitment by Arts Council England to new talent and building England’s arts and culture capacity all over the country. When funding is declining you have to set priorities – this we have done.’

Take children to London shows for free this August with Kids Week

Bodyguard workshop 2013 (photo credit Pamela Raith)

A workshop from The Bodyguard last summer (Credit: Pamela Raith)

The Society of London Theatre’s Kids Week returns this summer. The initiative offers free tickets to young people under the age of 16 to over 35 shows in London. Kids Week takes place throughout August (1–31) and is available to young people who are accompanied by a full-paying adult.

Shows on offer for those aged three to five and above are The Elephantom, The Tiger Who Came to Tea, What The Ladybird Heard, The 39 Steps, Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, The Lion King, Hetty Feather, Horrible Histories – Barmy Britain Part 2, MAMMA MIA!, Matilda The Musical, The Pajama Game, Stomp, Thriller Live, Top Hat, Wicked and many others.

For slightly older audiences, there’s also plenty of London favourites, from shows for those needing parental guidance through to audiences of young people aged 15+: Billy Elliot The Musical, The Bodyguard, The Commitments, The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time, The Importance Of Being Earnest, Jeeves And Wooster In Perfect Nonsense, The Mousetrap, Shakespeare In Love, War Horse,The Woman In Black, Avenue Q, Ghost Stories,Jersey Boys, Let The Right One In and Once.

The month-long scheme also offers a vast selection of free activities and events for young people to participate in: fans of The Elephantom can make their own Elephantom at a practical craft-based workshop; talk to the cast and creative team of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory at a post-show Q&A session; learn more about the theatre of Shakespeare’s era in a workshop with Shakespeare In Love‘s associate director; and discover how The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time translated from page to stage.   

All tickets, on sale now, for Kids Week shows and activities are subject to availability. For information on how to book tickets for shows and workshops, as well as more information about all the offerings this August, visit www.kidsweek.co.uk.

New report claims London bias in public funding of the arts

A newly published report has claimed that public spending in the arts is too London centric. The report, Rebalancing Our Cultural Capital, states that government spending in 2012/13 involved £69 per resident being spent in the capital, in comparison to the £4.60 per resident spent elsewhere in England.    

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A new report reveals a majority of arts public spending is spent on a minority of residents in the captial

In 2012/13 £163m of arts public funding was circulated to organisations in London, while only £159m was granted to the rest of England.

The report, written by Peter Stark, Christopher Gordon and David Powell, does not take into account the £440m of local council funding toward the arts.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, chair of the Arts Council Sir Peter Bazalgette responded to the report, saying: ‘We need to do more … I would say judge us in two years’ time. The trend is towards more spending in the regions and that’s what we’ll be doing.’

New part-time performing arts school launched by actress in London

360 ArtsActress Simone Lahbib has launched a new part-time performing arts school in North Finchley, London, offering children of ages three and up classes in dance, acting, singing and musical theatre.

360 Arts opened on 8 September, with Lahbib as principal. She has described 360 Arts as, ‘a vibrant, exciting environment, boasting some of London’s best teachers for singing, dancing and acting.’

She also spoke of the resources available: ‘Lovely, bright studios, regular visits from industry professionals, and an affiliated agency, Daisy and Dukes.’

As well as performing arts classes, 360 Arts will also host workshops from industry professionals in production areas such as stage management, script writing and producing.

Details of the school and workshops on offer are available at www.360arts.co.uk.