The arts magazine for teachers

Shock news! Apparently young people are more aware of the lyrics of Justin Bieber than they are the lines from Shakespeare’s plays. As a parent of two teens, even though they have both studied the Bard and been to see several live performances, this revelation really doesn’t come as a great surprise. Perhaps we should encourage the use of more social media and streaming of Shakespeare into the palms of today’s ‘youfs’, then they might be just as familiar with Shakespearean lyrics? But that enters the dangerous realm of advocating not going to the theatre…which is definitely something IP is opposed to! With the plethora of his plays being performed around the country this year, hopefully more of your pupils will get the opportunity to experience a live Shakespeare performance and not wishing to disparage JB, but I am not convinced his lyrics will be quoted in 400 years!

In another busy and varied issue for you this term, our Big Interview is with playwright Evan Placey, discussing his life, works and concerns for the future of drama in schools. We drop in on a primary school and their rehearsals as part of the Shakespeare’s Odes celebrations in conjunction with Ex Cathedra, plus we take a look at preparations for Frankenstein, the next production and tour from Blackeyed Theatre coming to a venue near you later this year. We celebrate the work of Oily Cart, specialists in creating theatre for children with SEND, which is 35 years old this year and take a peek inside the Monkey House – new home to exciting school Fourth Monkey. Finally in this issue, we’ve an interview with Curious playwright Simon Stephens, with an invitation for him to visit your school!

As we head into exam season, the quote this issue is from Hamlet: ‘The readiness is all’

THE BIG INTERVIEW: Evan Placey

THE BIG INTERVIEW: Evan Placey  

Playwright Evan Placey chats to Susan Elkin about his Canadian roots, challenging writing and his concerns for the future of drama in schools Within a couple of minutes of our meeting, playwright Evan Placey and I are chatting comfortably about his partner Daniel and life in south London with the little boy (now 20 months) [...]

Celebrating 35 years on a Cart

Celebrating 35 years on a Cart  

Once upon a time, in 1981, there were two men, a woman and a passion for theatre. Oily Cart, which specialises in theatre for young children and for those with special needs and disabilities (SEND) was on the way. Tim Webb shares memories and reflections with Susan Elkin in celebration of the company’s 35th anniversary. [...]

Singing Up for Shakespeare

Singing Up for Shakespeare  

Susan Elkin visits Arnhem Wharf Primary, a school committed to the arts, and is inspired by seeing the Ex Cathedra Choir in rehearsal I’m sitting in a classroom at the attractively light, bright and modern Arnhem Wharf Primary School on the Isle of Dogs in Tower Hamlets on a spring Monday morning. 30 eight and [...]

Creating a monster

Creating a monster  

Adrian McDougall, Yvonne Stone and Eliot Guiralarocca talk to Susan Elkin about Blackeyed Theatre and its forthcoming new show, Frankenstein. “We specialise in touring small scale shows to venues all over the country” says Adrian McDougall who founded Bracknell-based Blackeyed Theatre Company in 2004. The company has just completed a successful six month tour of [...]

Inside The Monkey House

Inside The Monkey House  

Not all drama schools are the same. Susan Elkin takes a peek inside Fourth Monkey’s new premises to discover a communal hub with a strong vocational drive.   Stage smoke, sinister lights, shadow work, love, murder, a naked man, revenge, a castration, a female protagonist, glee, lust and much more. Welcome to the murky world [...]

EXHIBITION: The Common Strand – archetypes and stereotypes in Photography

EXHIBITION: The Common Strand – archetypes and stereotypes in Photography  

Graham Hooper leads us through several of the major photography exhibitions running in London and finds he sees the world differently as a result

Theatre Review: Kinky Boots

Theatre Review: Kinky Boots  

Based on the film written by Geoff Deane and Tim Firth, Kinky Boots is one of those gloriously English stories about (fairly) ordinary people overcoming human problems in an unlikely but theatrically spectacular way. It’s in the same tradition as The Full Monty and Brassed Off. It makes a gloriously vibrant musical and it’s hard [...]

Book Review: The Blackthorn Key By Kevin Sands

Book Review: The Blackthorn Key By Kevin Sands  

Book Review of The Blackthorn Key By Kevin Sands. Set in London in the 1660s, the story revolves around Christopher Rowe, the apprentice to a Master Apothecary named Benedict Blackthorn. Christopher is eager to learn and please his benefactor. Blackthorn, recognizing his young student’s potential, teaches him everything from chemistry and Latin to church history and cryptography. It’s well that he does, as Christopher will need all his wits and knowledge to solve the mystery of the murdered apothecaries happening around him.

A DAY IN THE LIFE OF… Simon Stephens

A DAY IN THE LIFE OF… Simon Stephens  

Simon Stephens is one of Britain’s best known playwrights. The National Theatre production of his adaptation of Mark Haddon’s novel The Curious Incident of The Dog in the Night-Time has been seen live by over a million people.

Theatre Review: Guys and Dolls

Theatre Review: Guys and Dolls  

If you feel like taking a school party to a traditional, roof-raising musical then you won’t do much better than this production of Guys and Dolls, a Chichester Festival Theatre show which transferred into the West End. It’s glitzy, funny and pulsating with energy as it sails triumphantly on to its feel good finale.