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.

TD attends relaxed performance of MATILDA THE MUSICAL

Attendees of Matilda The Musical's relaxed performance

Attendees of Matilda The Musical’s relaxed performance

By Ruth McPherson

On 15 June, the Royal Shakespeare Company presented the inaugural ‘relaxed’ performance of Matilda The Musical at Cambridge Theatre, building on the programme of relaxed performances that the RSC has been running in Stratford-upon-Avon since 2013, when it was among the first to adopt and promote the concept. The National Autistic Society worked closely with the RSC on this special performance offering full access to the theatre for people with autism and learning disabilities.

The performance provided a relaxed environment, with elements of the production adapted to reduce anxiety or stress. Lighting and sound levels were adjusted to soften their impact and there was a relaxed attitude to noise and moving around the auditorium during the performance.  Designated ‘chill-out’ areas were provided outside the auditorium with soft seating and activities for people to use if being in the auditorium became overwhelming for them. All audience members were also sent a visual story to help them familiarise themselves with the plot, characters and the setting before they arrived at the theatre.

Tickets for the show were offered at the reduced rate of £20 and it was a sell-out performance. Catherine Mallyon, executive director of the Royal Shakespeare Company, said ‘Relaxed performances are a fantastic way of offering a warm and inclusive welcome to those families, giving them the chance to experience high quality, live theatre, often for the first time. We are delighted to be part of the growing number of theatres across the UK helping to make relaxed performances a standard feature of British theatre-going.’

The cast of Matilda The Musical. (Credit: Manuel Harlan)

The cast of Matilda The Musical (Credit: Manuel Harlan)

Several other major London shows have also presented successful ‘relaxed’ performances recently, including The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Romeo and Juliet, The Elephantom, Mamma Mia! and The Lion King.  The National Theatre has recently announced that they will be putting on a relaxed performance of War Horse in September.

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.

War Horse set for UK and Ireland tour

War Horse will set off on UK and Ireland tour in autumn 2013 (Credit: Simon Annand)

Autumn 2013 will see War Horse tour UK and Ireland for the first time. The play, based on the novel by Michael Morpurgo, has had massive world-wide success.

First staged at the National Theatre in 2007, it then transferred to the New London Theatre, in the West End, in 2009. War Horse has seen productions transfer to Broadway, Canada and Australia, as well as undergo a screen adaptation from film director Steven Spielberg.

The tour will make its first stop at Plymouth Theatre Royal for a month long run in September 2013. The show will then visit Birmingham Hippodrome, The Lowry in Manchester and Edinburgh Festival Theatre – as well as runs in Southampton, Dublin and Cardiff.

The current production at New London Theatre will continue while the tour gets underway, with bookings still available for the London show until October 2013.

To find out more information about the UK and Ireland tour and to buy tickets, visit http://warhorseonstage.com/tickets/uk_tour.

National Theatre: Staging War Horse Exhibition

If you’re in London, walking on the South Bank, perhaps looking for a free theatre activity to indulge in, why not pop into the National Theatre to view the Staging War Horse Exhibition? It is being held in the Lyttelton Exhibition Area, which Teaching Drama did struggle to find at first among the winding staircases of the National.

Many free exhibitions can tend to be a bit ropey, with only have one or two props from the show on display, surrounded by lots of promotional material for tickets. This War Horse exhibition however, is an exception to that rule. Bringing War Horse to the stage involved every department of the National, this exhibition looks at all of the contributions that came together to create the play.

The literature on the walls reveals the process of taking War Horse from page to stage – starting with Michael Morpurgo’s book and then developing the concept with the National and South African company Handspring Puppet Company. One of the most interesting resources to view as part of the exhibition is the video footage of the original rehearsals which took place at the National’s studio space. It shows performers exploring the use of puppets to tell the story of War Horse.There are also a number of other videos which contain interviews with puppet makers and lighting designers talking about why they chose certain design elements.

Props from the performance are on display and a giant fact sheet containing all of War Horses vital statistics. Another nice interactive element is a projector that allows visitors to experiment with using shadow puppets, an element which was included in the original production.

For a free exhibit, this has a lot of information to offer. If you have a passion for adaptation and exploring how it is done, or have a soft spot for War Horse it is well worth a visit if you are in the area.

The exhibit is free to visit and will continue until 9 September 2012.

Wicked Young Writers’ Award

The Wicked Young Writers’ Award is back for the third year running. The award encourages writing talent throughout the UK. Young people aged five to 25 can enter.

War Horse author, Michael Morpurgo is a strong advocate, speaking of the Wicked Young Writers’ Award as something, ‘very close to my heart’.

Morpurgpo said: ‘Last year my fellow judges and I were delighted to read so many stories that were passionately felt and honestly written down, and where the young writers had found their own unique voices. I’m looking forward to another successful year.’

The Wicked Young Writers’ Award is free to enter; entries must be no longer than 750 words and can be of any genre. Applicants may write in poetry or prose. The award is split into five categories; ages 5-7, 8-10, 11-14, 15-17 and entrants aged 18-25 compete for the Gregory Maguire Award.

The competition encourages teachers to enter work on behalf of their students through the schools’ entry form. The Wicked Young Writers’ Award website has a page for teacher’s offering video tips to encourage writing in the classroom. There is also a set of teacher’s notes available for download. The resources can be found here: http://wickedyoungwriters.com/teachers_resource.html

In the autumn, a shortlist of 100 finalists will be announced. These finalists will receive a published 2012 Wicked Young Writers’ Award Anthology which will include their own writing. The 18-25-year-old category will have their work published in an e-Book.

One winner will be chosen for each category, with the winner receiving four tickets to see Wicked on the West End and the chance to meet the cast after the show. They will also receive a writing masterclass with one of the competition’s judges.

Entry submission closes on 31 July. To find out more about the competition and how to enter visit wickedyoungwriters.com

Kids Week sells record number of tickets in 24 hours

Over 42,000 tickets have been sold in the first 24 hours of Kids Week. Edwin Shaw, theatre consultant at See Tickets said: ‘In my memory, no other theatre promotion has sold as many tickets in a 24 hour period, so this is really very remarkable.’

Kids Week is in its 15th year and will run (contrary to its title) throughout August. The scheme allows young people under the age of 16 to see theatre performances in London free, when attending with a paying adult. Kids Week 2012 was officially launched in London on 11th June with a showcase attended by 1,000 students from 33 schools at Theatre Royal Drury Lane, comprising extracts from performances all of which are on offer as part of Kids Week. Showcase performances from Shrek The Musical, Horrible Histories and The Tiger Who Came To Tea gave the audience a taste of what to look forward to in August.

Among this year’s selection of shows on offer are Billy Elliot the MusicalBlood Brothers, Chicago, War Horse, The Lion King, The Wizard of Oz and many more. Tickets went on sale on 12th June and saw popular show Matilda The Musical sell out within hours.

(c) James Carnegie Photography

 

Kids Week and West End Live make theatre accessible this summer

While this summer looks to be dominated by sport, those with an appetite for theatre won’t be disappointed. It was predicted by theatre bigwigs such as Andrew Lloyd Webber 2012 would see theatre’s struggle against the tide of Olympic tourists. However, there are a couple of initiatives which are making London’s biggest theatre hits more available to everyone.

One scheme which will keep children happy throughout the summer holidays is Kids Week. The project, in its 15th year, will run throughout the whole of August – providing parents and children with a respite from the Olympic Games.

The scheme allows young people under the age of 16 to see a theatre performance in London for free, when attending with a paying adult. Amongst this year’s selection of performances are Billy Elliot the MusicalBlood Brothers, Chicago, War Horse, The Lion King, The Wizard of Oz and many more. Tickets went on sale on 12th June and saw popular show Matilda The Musical sell out within hours.

Young people who have bought a ticket through Kids Week also have the chance to take part in a workshop from their chosen play. Those attending Singin’ in the Rain can opt to have a go at a vocal and dance workshop for free. Visitors to The Woman in Black can participate in an interactive ghostly workshop and many other productions are offering Q&A sessions with Kids Week audiences. For more information about Kids Week, visit www.kidsweek.co.uk. Tickets and workshops are subject to availability, so book soon to avoid disappointment.

However, if your budget is too tight to shell out for full price adult tickets, West End Live are offering a free weekend of London theatre performances for visitors to enjoy. The event, organised by Westminster City Council and the Society of London Theatre (SOLT), will see live showcase performances of London’s biggest theatre shows.

There will be performances from Shrek, Wicked, Ghost The Musical, Stomp and Phantom of the Opera. If you’ve missed out on tickets for Kids Week for shows like Matilda the Musical and Billy Elliot they will also be in attendance. The weekend will also see musical performances take place from acts such as the National Youth Music Theatre and Ghost The Musical star Mark Evans.

West End Live will take place on Saturday 23rd and Sunday 24th July. All performances will take place in Trafalgar Square and entry is free. To find out more, visit www.westendlive.co.uk.

Make sure you make the most of all that the West End has to offer this summer!

The Stage reveals high theatre prices

An investigation by The Stage has revealed the high cost of visiting popular shows in the West End. The theatre industry newspaper uncovered some of the rather hefty charges incurred when attending theatre in the capital.

Buying tickets online is costing theatre-goers up to £12.25, just in booking fees. But the charges are not consistent across the board, The Stage found that for shows such as Chicago and War Horse there was no fee, however, shows toward the top end of the booking charge scale, at £12+ included; We Will Rock You, Wicked and Top Hat.  

The charges were found to vary between the tiers of tickets for sale. When purchasing a top-price ticket, customers are charged a fee of £8.25, however, for cheaper seats, costing just £34, the booking charge drops to £5.50.

On top of this initial fee, there is a further £4 charge, which goes towards the delivery costs of posting or emailing tickets to customers.  However, this charge is only applicable to UK residents, for which collection at the theatre is not permitted.

A spokesman for Which? told The Stage: ‘About 50,000 people supported our campaign to see these ‘rip-off’ charges stamped out so the government must stick to its commitment and ensure the ban happens by December.’

The Stage has also uncovered the most expensive tickets on sale in the West End. On average a top price ticket costs £72.12 and the average cost for the least expensive seats is £21.91 – inclusive of booking charges.

Their investigation found that Billy Elliot was the most expensive musical, charging £97.50 for a top-tier ticket. The Ladykillers was named as the most expensive play to attend, charging customers £97 for buying a top price ticket.

But for a country still cost-cutting after the recession, it was not all bad news – both War Horse and Les Miserables came out top for offering the cheapest seats for theatre-goers. Les Miserables has tickets starting from £12 and War Horse came out even cheaper, with prices from just £10.

Do high prices deter you from visiting the theatre? Do you think is justified for theatres to charge this much for tickets and booking fees? Do you think the high cost discourages young people from attending? Let us know what you think.

www.thestage.co.uk/news/newsstory.php/35824/exclusive-west-end-audiences-face-booking
www.thestage.co.uk/news/newsstory.php/35823/exclusive-top-priced-london-theatre-seats 

Stage and screen inundated with Eton alumni

Eton College has a prestigious reputation for producing Britain’s politicians and diplomats, but there are an increasing amount of British stage and screen stars that are coming through those infamous Eton doors. With a 400 seat main theatre, along with two studio spaces on the school’s premises, it’s no surprise Eton college students get a taste for drama during their time there. Each year the school has a director-in-residence to oversee the 8 or 9 house productions performed by the students.

Most recently the big names emerging from Eton have been, Henry Faber, Harry Lloyd, Tom Hiddleston and Eddie Redmayne. Other members of the Eton alumni have their work cut out for them to keep up with rising star Eddie Redmayne who has started off the new year with roles in some of the most talked about dramas, both on stage and on screen. Redmayne has most recently appeared in the BBC’s adaptation of novel Birdsong. He also had the lead role in the Oscar nominated film My Week with Marilyn along with fellow Eton attendee Dominic West.

At the Critic’s Circle Theatre Awards this month, Eddie Redmayne walked away with the prize for Best Shakespearean Performance for his role in Richard II at the Donmar Warehouse, which is sold out until the end of its run in February, after which, Redmayne will work on a film version of the West End favourite Les Miserables. 

Redmayne’s fellow classmates are also having their own fair share of success; Tom Hiddleston will also be venturing into Shakespeare, filming a television version of Henry IV. He appeared in Woody Allen’s acclaimed Midnight in Paris last year and currently can be seen in Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of the acclaimed War Horse. Harry Lloyd is also appearing at cinemas around the country, starring in the Margaret Thatcher biopic The Iron Lady. Lloyd and Henry Faber will also star alongside Hiddleston in Henry IV.