The arts magazine for teachers

Hopefully you have all survived the festive period and returned invigorated – having dodged the latest flu epidemic – to tackle the term ahead. This always seems like a term of great productivity and intensity, ensuring all the key curriculum elements have been covered prior to the cramming season. It’s also a time for planning those extra enrichment activities for the coming months and I hope you will look to incorporate visits to take in the many touring productions around the country.

It’s come to a rather poor state of affairs in our schools, with many already having to ask parents for financial contributions to provide some of the basics, for arts subjects to only be made available to those willing/able to pay for lessons. As we are painfully aware, many schools are finding it increasingly hard to offer a wide selection of courses, with pressures on maintaining the ‘core’ subjects, but where are our risk takers and critical thinkers going to come from if everyone is restricted to a narrow syllabus?

In this issue, we feature the new touring production of The Jungle Book – a familiar tale being inventively retold with new musical numbers, and look at the progression of Kneehigh from its West Country roots to LA and back again. We drop in on The Woman in White to chat to a couple of its leading actors, look at an MA in Stand-up, focus on the National Youth Orchestra as it reaches its 80th year and feature the new two-year actor training course offered by Fourth Monkey, aiming to challenge established practice.

Our exhibition writer, Graham Hooper, looks back at 2017 and previews the wide array of shows he’s looking forward to in the coming year.

In the latest in our ‘Pause for thought’ discussion pieces, Susan Elkin puts forward a strong case for banning food and drink in theatres. Opinions on this subject seem to be divided – we’d be delighted to hear your thoughts!

John

BIG INTERVIEW: playwright Jessica Swale, composer Joe Stilgoe and director Max Webster

BIG INTERVIEW: playwright Jessica Swale, composer Joe Stilgoe and director Max Webster  

Susan Elkin spoke to playwright Jessica Swale, composer Joe Stilgoe and director Max Webster during the rehearsals for a brand-new adaptation of The Jungle Book which opened at Royal and Derngate, Northampton before Christmas and tours nationally this year. Everyone connected with this production mentions the 1967 Disney film, with its songs by George Bruns which have [...]

Training to Stand-up

Training to Stand-up  

Susan Elkin delves into the world of stand-up comedy to discover an MA course in Canterbury to help you refine your skills Stand-up comedy doesn’t, at first glance, seem the sort of thing you could train for in a university. Surely, if you have the innate talent you’ll just get up and do it? Then [...]

Having a knees-up

Having a knees-up  

From playing village halls to touring Los Angeles, Kneehigh has come a long way since it began as a schools’ theatre company in the early 80s, yet its Cornish origins run deep and continue to influence its productions. Mark Glover finds out more about this extraordinary touring company. Thirty-seven years ago, a primary school teacher [...]

Mystery men…and a dog

Mystery men…and a dog  

Susan Elkin meets up with two of the leading actors in the latest revival of The Woman in White… and a dog. Iam sitting in the bar at Charing Cross Theatre in the early afternoon. With me are two engaging men and a delightful dog named Peety. Tea is laid on for me along with [...]

3 Into 2 Does Go

3 Into 2 Does Go  

Bucking the trend… or perhaps at the forefront of a new one, Fourth Monkey are now offering an intensive two-year actor training course. When formed back in 2010, Fourth Monkey were looking to challenge what was perceived to be at the time and still in many circles today the tried, tested and only means of [...]

70 years of Youth

70 years of Youth  

Celebrating its 70th anniversary, Susan Elkin looks at the National Youth Orchestra, which continues to excel and expand. Ruth Railton, later Dame Ruth, was a pioneer. When she founded the National Youth Orchestra 70 years ago in 1948 she was doing more than building an orchestra. She was launching a world movement and, as she [...]

EXHIBITION: Taking it all in

EXHIBITION: Taking it all in  

Our regular exhibition correspondent, Graham Hooper, marks your card for the wonderful array of exhibitions across the country this coming year. Every year seems to bring ever-bigger exhibitions. Each venue competing for higher profiling and each time it feels as though tickets get more expensive. I used to walk in off the street, no need [...]

PAUSE FOR THOUGHT… Eating and drinking

PAUSE FOR THOUGHT… Eating and drinking  

Susan Elkin champions the case for banning food and drink in theatres If you want to picnic then go to a park. In a theatre “The play’s the thing” in every sense. Eating and drinking are for elsewhere. Traditionally gentlemen bought rustly chocolates to impress the ladies they wanted to impress. Theatres sold said expensive [...]

Theatre Review: The Woman in White – Charing Cross Theatre

Theatre Review: The Woman in White – Charing Cross Theatre  

It’s good to see a grandiose, gothic musical – not particularly successful by Andrew Lloyd Webber standards when it first aired in 2004 – scaled down and given vibrant new life. It now uses an ensemble cast of three (plus a child) supporting seven principals accompanied by a nine piece band – and it works [...]

BOOK REVIEW: Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Going to the Theatre (But were too sloshed to ask, Dear)

BOOK REVIEW: Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Going to the Theatre (But were too sloshed to ask, Dear)  

by West End Producer Published by Nick Hern Books Published late autumn this was definitely the best theatre book of 2017 and I suspect it will be unsurpassed this year too. Written in the same wickedly dead-pan tone as his earlier Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Acting (But were too sloshed to ask [...]