The National Theatre adapts programmes to support theatre in schools across the UK throughout 2020/21. Three unique courses (Connections, New Views, Let’s Play) offer high quality online workshops that are flexible with timings for both teachers and students. The theatre is ready to “embrace digital” so that Covid-19 is not a limitation, but an opportunity. The main aim of the programmes is to be inclusive, diverse and national. People from all walks of life can participate due to increased accessibility. State schools are sponsored by private schools and additional bursaries are offered to “level out the playing field”.
The fluctuating Covid-19 guidelines has meant that the safety measures in place for all planned physical activity is adaptable to each school’s individual risk assessment. New innovations are forming every day in ensuring that all interactive theatre remains safe. The theatre is now using hats that buzz when performers get too close to maintain social distancing without repeated interruption in rehearsals.
Some of the best theatre is made in adapting to difficult times. The NT is expecting wonderful, new things to arise from this creative problem-solving. Sarah Eastaff, the NT Secondary School Programme Manager, commented on the powerful ownership that students have of their story, which is channeled through their creations to form captivating and relevant theatre. With the authenticity of verbatim and the vivacity of fiction, students produce work that inspires the NT in their own productions. Shortlisted plays from the New Views programme are brought from paper to stage and performed in July 2021 at the theatre itself.
The NT are committed to revitalising theatre in schools through pushing the national curriculum to diversify set texts for GCSE and A-Level drama. They want to be part of the change causing schools to focus on modern literature which highlight a breadth of current affairs. Now, state school students can also watch productions online for free with the National Theatre Collection. For even more insight into the world of theatre are the following programmes:
Connections, the annual youth theatre festival, returns encouraging contemporary writers to produce and stage ten new plays. Workshops and mentoring will take place digitally.
The deadline for submissions from schools is 2nd October.
For more information, visit: www.nationaltheatre.org.uk/learning/connections
The young playwriting programme, New Views, allows the students to bring fresh ideas which the programme will help refine and bring to life. A professional playwright is partnered with the school remotely and gives personal feedback on the script. It authenticates the experience, whilst introducing young people to an art form that they might not have previously had the opportunity to enjoy.
The deadline for submissions from schools is 5th October.
For more information, visit: www.nationaltheatre.org.uk/learning/schools/secondary-and-fe/new-views
Let’s Play, brings theatre to primary schools and supports creativity as a core aspect of early education. It provides teachers with a toolkit for pupils to devise a short performance that will be shared digitally.
See October Print Edition for more information (released 6th October) or visit: www.nationaltheatre.org.uk/learning/primary/lets-play