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.

Specially priced performance of The Scottsboro Boys for low-income families

Mousetrap Theatre Projects and West End producer Paula Marie Black organised a family performance on 5 November of The Scottsboro Boys at the Garrick Theatre, London.

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The Scottsboro Boys runs at The Garrick Theatre, London (Credit: Johan Persson)

Those invited to attend were families who have previously taken part in Mousetrap’s Family First Nights (FFN) programme. FFN, which has been running for the last 17 years, runs a five-week summer programme where low-income families (identified by organisations such as social service agencies, housing associations, charities and community projects) can choose from 30 theatre productions in London and the West End with the support of Mousetrap. FFN participants are then invited to theatre, opera and dance events throughout the year.

The performance of The Scottsboro Boys had specially priced tickets, with children’s at £2.50–£5 and adults at £5–£10. The event sold out with 180 families in attendance. The performance time was moved to an earlier slot to 7.15pm to accommodate the needs of those with young children.

Susan Whiddington, director of Mousetrap Theatre Projects, said, ‘We are delighted to invite our families to this spectacular and very moving musical and are incredibly grateful to the generosity of Paula Marie Black for making it possible. We believe the electricity and the energy of this family audience will be inspirational to the actors and everyone involved in the production.’

Mousetrap win award for charity work

Mousetrap Theatre Projects has been awarded with the Sandford Award for Heritage Education – a first for any UK theatre organisation. The Sanford Award honours organisations for quality and excellence in their educational services and facilities at a heritage site – a prize which, until this year, had not been won by a theatre organisation. Previous winners have included the Tower of London and Edinburgh Castle.

Mousetrap specialise in providing young people with access to theatre performances in London. They work with children from disadvantaged areas and backgrounds, as well as children who have special needs and learning difficulties.

Director of Mousetrap, Susan Whiddington said: ‘We believe that theatre is a significant contributor to Britain’s cultural heritage and we are thrilled to be recognised for our part in bringing theatre to young people who would otherwise not have access to it.’

The theatre charity won for their overall work, but more specifically for their StageSeen programme: a theatre day which sees the company work with hard of hearing or deaf young people. The day includes participants taking part in a workshop with a deaf theatre facilitator, as well as providing the attendees with a BSL interpreted or captioned matinee performance of a production such as Billy Elliot.

Sandford Award judge Adam Clarke said: ‘Mousetrap’s work with hard to reach and seldom heard young people incorporates practice that could, and perhaps should, be transferred to all organisations and properties that deliver schools’ programmes. In enabling access to the West End stage, children are given access to a magical world that enables them to learn, create, socialise and grow.’

Chief executive of the Society of London Theatre, Julian Bird, offered his congratulations to Mousetrap, an organisation which they provided support to over the past six years: ‘To be the first theatre education organisation to be awarded a Sandford Award is an incredible accolade. I would like to congratulate Mousetrap for its instrumental work in introducing young people to the magic of theatre, irrespective of their cultural, social or economic background.’

www.mousetrap.org.uk

TheatreCraft 2011: Beyond the stage

TheatreCraft: Beyond the stage is an event that offers workshops, one-to-one career advice and an exhibition, informing visitors about the many opportunities in off-stage theatre careers.

This year’s event was held at the London Coliseum, home of the English National Opera. The day was launched in the auditorium with an impressive backdrop design in place. Visitors were welcomed by designer William Dudley, a 14-time Olivier award nominee, winning seven for his work on plays such as Hitchcock Blonde.

Dudley described his first encounter with theatre design as ‘love at first sight’. He was impressed with the number of students in attendance and encouraged visitors to consider a career in backstage arts, explaining: ‘It’s never boring – it’s a very strange and exciting thing that can take you round the world.’

There was a good selection of workshops on offer, covering a variation of careers, such as stage management, fundraising, development, costume design and even becoming a critic. Teaching Drama attended ‘working with young people’ – an hour long workshop led by Talawa Theatre Company’s participation and education officer, Gail Babb.

It was largely a discussion–based workshop which allowed each participant to introduce themselves and mention any relevant experience they had working with young people. Babb offered us advice on how to find work experience placements, getting the right kind of CRB check and what to consider when approaching an institution with a workshop.

The workshop wasn’t made up of recommended exercises to use with young people – instead it offered a very realistic and knowledgeable insight into working with young people and the hard work and persistence it takes to start working in theatre.

TheatreCraft also houses just under 30 different organisations in its exhibition. Big names like the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) and The Stage had stalls, offering visitors the opportunity to liaise with some of the most important companies in the theatre industry.

TheatreCraft is ideal for students looking to go into higher education. There was a strong presence of educational institutions at the marketplace, including representatives from the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, East 15 and Regents College London: School of Film, Media and Performance. This gave students the chance to look at some of the more specialised courses available in backstage theatre.

The event also has some relevance for younger students. The RSC, Mousetrap and Ambassador Theatre Group were offering discounted tickets and workshops. The RSC were promoting their scheme The Key, which provides greater access to 16-25 year olds by offering £5 tickets and discounted student coach trips.

Most of the material on offer is relevant to students, rather than teachers – with low price theatre tickets for the under 25’s. However, theatre companies such as Mousetrap run the Teachers Preview Club, a membership offering teachers individual or group tickets at a discounted price.

With impressive names in attendance, speaking so enthusiastically about their careers, TheatreCraft is a great place to become inspired – for your students, or for yourself. Recommended for slightly older students but is still a great chance for younger students to start thinking about the future and gain a realistic idea of what it is like to really work in theatre from some of the most knowledgeable people in the industry.

To find out more about the companies that attended the exhibition visit www.TheatreCraft.org