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.

Number of drama and arts teachers falling in state schools

A report into the value of culture to contemporary British society has revealed that since 2010, there has been an 8% decline in the number of state school drama teachers, and a 4% decline in hours taught for the subject.

The year-long project, led by the University of Warwick, has resulted in the publication of Enriching Britain: Culture, Creativity and Growth. Other key findings in the report include:

  • Alongside the decline of specialist drama teachers in England’s state schools, other creative subjects have also been affected: the number of design and technology teachers, as well as the number of hours taught, has fallen by 11%; and art and design teachers have reduced by 4% with a decline of 6% in teaching hours.
  • Young people from low-income families are least likely to engage with and appreciate the arts as part of the school curriculum or their home life; and least likely to be employed in the cultural and creative industries.
  • The costs related to engaging in extracurricular activities mean low-income families are often excluded from creative and cultural opportunities: 22% of parents in the higher social groups pay £500+ a year on extracurricular activities compared to 10% of parents in middle and lower groups.
Warwick

The report led by Warwick University is the result of a year-long project

The report makes a number of recommendations, several of which are aimed at Ofsted: the organisation should not award schools with an ‘outstanding’ status without evidence of a strong cultural and creative education, and should ensure – alongside the Department for Education – that young people up to the age of 16 receive a cultural education in order to encourage life-long engagement with the arts. They also recommend that Ofsted encourage Arts Council England’s aim to have 50% of schools achieving an ArtsMark award.

Other recommendations made include ensuring there is adequate careers advice available to those interested in pursuing a career in the cultural and creative industries, and the creation, by the government, of an arts and culture pupil premium fund and a national creative apprenticeship ascheme.

Commission member and Warwick education researcher Professor Jonothan Neelands said: ‘We are concerned that the educational system as a whole is not focusing on the future needs of the cultural and creative industries and the broader needs of a creative and successful UK. This needs to be addressed across our schools. However, we are particularly concerned that children born into low-income families with low levels of educational qualifications are the least likely to experience culture as part of their home education.

‘Without educational intervention we are in danger of allowing a two-tier creative and cultural ecosystem in which the most advantaged in social and economic terms are also the most advantaged in benefitting economically, socially and personally from the full range of experiences and value in that prevailing system.’

Vikki Heywood, chair of the Warwick commission report, said: ‘The key message from this report is that the government and the cultural and creative industries need to take a united and coherent approach that guarantees equal access for everyone to a rich cultural education and the opportunity to live a creative life. There are barriers and inequalities in Britain today that prevent this from being a universal human right. This is bad for business and bad for society.’

Read the full report at www2.warwick.ac.uk/research/warwickcommission/futureculture/finalreport

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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SOLT awards over £50,000 to 2014 Laurence Olivier bursary recipients

The Society of London Theatre (SOLT) has awarded the latest round of Laurence Olivier Bursaries to 16 drama students worth over £50,000. The bursaries provide support to students who are facing financial difficulties in their final year of drama school.

The Laurence Olivier bursaries range from £500 up to a maximum of £7,500. Applicants are nominated by the principal of their Drama UK accredited school; they are then asked to audition for a panel of industry professionals led by West End producer and Olivier Bursaries Committee chair Lee Menzies. Previous high-profile bursary recipients include Paterson Joseph, Ewan McGregor and Michael Sheen.

Other grants, such as the Behrens Foundation and Carmen Silvera bursaries, are awarded in conjunction with the SOLT scheme. This year saw the inaugural Clothworkers’ Foundation bursary awarded, worth a total of £37,500 over five years, with £7,500 awarded to a student annually.

The 2014 Laurence Olivier bursaries were awarded to:
Edward Bluemel (Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama)
Jammy Bulaya (Royal Central School of Speech and Drama)
Rhianna Compton (Manchester School of Theatre)
Kate Dolan (The Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts)
Georgina Downing (Birmingham School of Acting)
Lottie Finklaire (East 15 Acting School)
Emily-Jane McNeill (Royal Conservatoire of Scotland)
Megan Pemberton (Oxford School of Drama)
Juma Sharkah (Arts Educational Schools)
Lauren  Soley (Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts)
Elena Valentine (The Academy of Live and Recorded Arts).

2014 OLIVIER BURSARY WINNERS

Back row (L–R) Georgina Downing, Matt Jessop, Michael Jarvis (Clothworkers’ Foundation), Hannah Morrish, Jordon Kemp, Jammy Bulaya, Emily-Jane McNeill, Celeste Veazey, Elena Valentine, Juma, Sharkah, Lauren Soley, Lee Menzies (chair of the Olivier Bursaries Committee); front row (L–R) Stuart Crowther, Kate Dolan, Lottie Finklaire, Edward Bluemel, Megan Pemberton, Rhianna Compton

Additional bursaries were also presented: The Clothworkers’ Laurence Olivier Bursary was awarded to Matt Jessup of Bristol Old Vic Theatre School; the Behrens Foundation Bursary went to Stuart Crowther from The Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts, Hannah Morrish from Drama Centre London and Celeste Veazey of Rose Bruford; the Carmen Silvera Bursary was awarded to Jordon Kemp from Drama Centre London.

The winning students were presented with their bursaries by Lee Menzies in June. Speaking at the ceremony, Menzies said: ‘The standard of applicants this year was, once again, extremely high making the selection process very difficult. With the erosion of educational funding nationally, the support we are able to offer students through the Olivier Bursaries is needed more than ever.

‘We are extremely grateful to all our donors and, for the first time this year, the Clothworkers’ Foundation for the significant amount of money they have pledged for the next five years in support of these objectives via the Clothworkers’ Laurence Olivier Bursary. Financial support of this kind, via all the bursaries, allows the recipient to continue their studies with a small financial cushion.’

School building guidelines incorporate drama spaces for the first time

Building guidelines to include requirements for drama spaces

For the first time, the department for education has included performance and rehearsal spaces within building guidelines for both primary and secondary schools.

The guidelines recommend that primary schools have a studio for rehearsals and a hall space capable of hosting performances. They also state that secondary schools should include a studio space, equipped with a storage area for performance materials such as prop, set and costumes. The guidelines will also endorse that the studio is located near to a multi-functioning hall with moveable seating for audiences.

The government organisation Education Funding Agency developed the new guidelines in consultation with the Theatres Trust. The recommendations will be used by building contractors developing new or existing schools.

Director of the Theatres Trust Mhora Samuel told the The Stage: ‘We need good facilities to be able to teach drama, but it goes far beyond teaching – it’s about placing theatre experiences at the heart of every child in school.’

The news comes as drama faces an uncertain future in schools when its place in the primary curriculum was thrown into doubt with its exclusion from the primary draft.