West Side Story and charity Leap launch partnership

Leap participants at West Side Story workshop  (Credit: Jonathan Hordle)

Leap participants at West Side Story workshop (Credit: Jonathan Hordle)

A new partnership has been formed between a touring production of West Side Story and youth charity Leap. To mark the launch of their partnership, West Side Story and Leap co-hosted a special workshop involving cast members from the show and young people from the London area.

This new production of West Side Story is running at Sadler’s Wells until 22 September, after which it will tour to regional venues across the UK until June 2014. Leap is a charity which provides training for young people and professionals to help them transform the issues of conflict in their lives.

This specific workshop looked at the themes of violence, gangs and race within the musical in relation to conflict. West Side Story’s choreographer and director, Joey McKneely, and two young trainers from Leap, Natasha Aldonza and Kareem Maizi, led the session.

The young people watched the cast perform the musical’s prologue – where the rivalry between the Jets and Sharks is first established. The participants were asked to feedback on the scene, pick out some of themes which had occurred and look at some of the parallels in real life. The cast then performed the scene containing a ‘rumble’ between the two gangs. This time, the Leap facilitators used the format of forum theatre, asking the participants to call out ‘freeze’ when there appeared to be a point where one of the lead characters, Riff, could do something differently to provide a different and more positive outcome from where he was currently heading.

Workshop participant with Leap trainers Kareem Maizi and Natasha Aldonza (Credit: Jonathan Hordle)

Workshop participant with Leap trainers Kareem Maizi and Natasha Aldonza (Credit: Jonathan Hordle)

The workshop brought up discussions of ego, violence, peer pressure, breaking the cycle of violence, consequences of actions and knife crime. The young people taking part were from Leap’s Quarrel Shop programme, a scheme for 16-21 year olds who are dealing with issues of conflict and looking to become youth/social workers.

The success of the launch workshop is expected to lead to further workshops throughout West Side Story’s tour around the UK. 

To find out more about the work that Leap does, visit www.leapconfrontingconflict.org.uk. Visit http://westsidestorytheshow.co.uk to find out details of the UK West Side Story tour.

Line up for Kids Week 2013 revealed

kids-week-logoThe West End shows taking part in Kids Week 2013 have been revealed. Throughout August, young people will be able to attend performances, workshops and free activities as part of Kids Week – an initiative run by Official London Theatre and the Society of London Theatre.

The Kids Week scheme, now in its 16th year, offers free tickets to children aged under 16 for every adult ticket purchased. There is a range of 34 productions available to see, including Olivier Award winning productions of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, A Chorus Line, Top Hat and Matilda The Musical.

Long-running musicals also feature, with free tickets for children available for Billy Elliot the Musical, Les Misérables, The Lion King, Mamma Mia!, West Side Story, We Will Rock You and Wicked.

In 2012, Kids Week won Best Cultural Attraction at the London Lifestyle Awards, beating out  The London Eye, Shakespeare’s Globe and London Zoo to the prize.

Kids Week 2013 runs from 1 to 31 August. Tickets go on sale on 18 June. For more information, visit www.kidsweek.co.uk.