The arts magazine for teachers

I’ve recently been exhibiting at an education show and it was wonderful to be ‘out’ amongst like-minded souls, free of restrictions and masks after the past couple of years hibernating. Despite all that is going on elsewhere in the world, there was definitely an uplifting feeling at the event and I realised how much I’d missed interacting with real humans and seeing smiles! For those in education and the performing arts world, it is this positive human reaction that drives you to inspire and perform, bringing joy and an escape from reality, or perhaps to challenge and provoke thought.

The ‘Big Interview’ in this issue is with the talented and determined Dame Floella Benjamin, who recounts her journey from Trinidad to the House of Lords and is currently looking forward to the opening of Coming to England, a musical adaptation of her Windrush inspired 1995 book.

Determined to extend training opportunities around the UK, we pay a visit to The Bamboo House, Fourth Monkey’s new regional training centre in Bristol and chat to Musical Theatre International about the introduction of a new app set to revolutionise your rehearsal process.

We catch up with Evan Placey, taking his Jekyll & Hyde to more than ten thousand pupils for the NT spring schools tour and grabbed a coffee with Toby Olié, whose latest incredible puppetry creations will be starring in the latest UK tour of Animal Farm.

Plus we have a thought provoking ‘Pause for Thought’ on To Kill A Mockingbird from Susan Elkin, along with a selection of Book and Theatre reviews.

John

Coming to England

Coming to England  

Floella Benjamin is an actor, singer, writer and member of The House of Lords with a major commitment to children’s welfare. Susan Elkin spoke to her about her work, life and forthcoming family stage show Coming to England Like many people of my generation, I have fond, warm happy memories of Floella Benjamin entertaining my […]

Digital Scripts and Scores

Digital Scripts and Scores  

Enhancing their services, Susan Elkin enquired about the launch of a new app by Music Theatre International, offering an interactive digital rehearsal notebook specially tailored for the UK. Anyone who has ever put on a school production of an established show will know that the first thing you have to do is to find out […]

Regional Excellence

Regional Excellence  

Susan Elkin was invited to The Bamboo House, Fourth Monkey’s new regional training centre in Bristol and jumped at the chance to discover more. “This is one of the best decisions I have ever made” says Rosie who is talking to me in a comfortable meeting room at Fourth Monkey’s new training centre, The Bamboo […]

Power and Repression

Power and Repression  

Evan Placey’s adaptation of Jekyll and Hyde, produced by National Theatre is currently touring secondary schools. Susan Elkin caught up with the playwright. Evan Placey and I have history. I last interviewed him for Ink Pellet six years ago in a chain coffee shop in Catford. Just for old times’ sake we’ve met in the […]

EXHIBITION: Man and Beast

EXHIBITION: Man and Beast  

Drawn to the Royal Academy for its latest major exhibition, Graham Hooper was captivated by the paintings of Francis Bacon. IMAGE ABOVE: Francis Bacon, Second Version of Triptych 1944, 1988 Oil paint and acrylic paint on 3 canvases, 198 x 147.5 cm (each) Tate: Presented by the artist 1991 © The Estate of Francis Bacon. […]

Pause for thought…

Pause for thought…  

To Kill a Mockingbird is one of the 20th century’s most important novels. Published in 1960, and winner of the Pulitzer Prize, it stated firmly that black lives matter very much – eight years before the death of Martin Luther King and 60 years before the death of George Floyd. Yes, the issues are still […]

The Key in the Lock

The Key in the Lock  

by Beth Underdown Published by Penguin Random House This novel has been widely dubbed a homage to Daphne du Maurier. Yes, there are fires and houses and we’re in Cornwall. Beyond that I didn’t find too much similarity although it would be a good wider reading recommendation for A level students who are studying Rebecca. […]

Animal Farm – Cambridge Arts Theatre and touring

Animal Farm – Cambridge Arts Theatre and touring  

Toby Olié’s puppetry (see our interview on page 26) are what this show will be remembered for. If life sized puppets are to live, they must never be still. Designed and directed by Olié these jointed creations are magnificently controlled by a team of fourteen skilled puppeteers, they move continuously in a convincingly equine, canine, […]

Coffee Break Toby Olié

Coffee Break Toby Olié  

Toby Olié created and directed the puppets for Animal Farm which is currently touring nationwide. Susan Elkin spoke to him. How did you get into puppetry? I enjoyed Sesame Street as a child because the puppets exist within a human world and no one thinks anything of it. Then when I was eight years old […]

Adapting with Pride

Adapting with Pride  

Isobel McArthur wrote, appears in, and co-directs Pride and Prejudice* (*sort of) which is running at the Criterion Theatre in London. Susan Elkin met her. They are rehearsing in an additional understudy. And I sit at the back of the empty stalls and watch the meticulous work until there’s a short “tea break” and Isobel […]