The Lion King  

As Disney’s The Lion King celebrates its 20th anniversary in London, we look at the education opportunities available with Nancy Shakerley, Education and Outreach Manager at Disney Theatrical Productions

About The Lion King Education Programme and Disney Theatrical Productions Outreach Going to the theatre on a school trip, participating in a school play or bringing history to life through role play are just some of the ways young people access the arts. However, teachers tell us that access to arts and cultural experiences for some pupils across the UK can be problematic. Some teachers attribute this to the decreasing number of excursions as well as priority being given to core subjects. In many cases, the arts and all the learning opportunities that they bring are being challenged.

At Disney Theatrical Productions, we value our schools’ audience; our education programmes enable young people to access the arts, inspiring them to become cultural supporters and potentially ignite a passion to forge a career in the industry.

In 2016, we welcomed our millionth education patron to Disney’s The Lion King and over the last academic year alone nearly 80,000 young people and their teachers came to see the show. Our Disney Theatrical Teaching Artists run over a hundred pre-show workshops each year and we arrange a diverse range of bespoke opportunities for school and youth groups.

This academic year, The Lion King will be celebrating its 20th year at London’s Lyceum Theatre which also coincides with the launch of a UK & Ireland tour. The tour opens in Bristol on the 12th September before moving to Edinburgh at the end of the year and then visits Cardiff in 2020. Further cities will be announced in the coming months. The same education programme that supports the London show will be available in the cities we visit on this brand new tour. We’ll be working with our host venues to tailor outreach initiatives to help maximise opportunities for young people and create a long lasting legacy once the tour leaves that city.

Disney Theatrical Productions is committed to supporting the arts in schools by developing a programme of education resources and activities that are designed to unlock children’s learning potential, nurture future industry careers, as well as provide theatre opportunities for under-resourced schools and students who have a passion for the arts. What does this mean in practical terms?

Delivering on the curriculum

We work closely with our Teachers Advisory Board to ensure that we develop relevant, creative and adaptable resources for the classroom. The 16 sessions inspired by The Lion King are linked to subjects including English, Art & Design, Music, PSHE and Performing Arts. We understand that teachers are the experts as they know what will work well, our aim is to provide them with ideas and a tool kit of activities that they can adapt to suit the learning needs within their classrooms.

Opportunities for participation

The Lion King provides opportunities for schools to participate in practical theatre experience, namely our choice pre-show performance based workshops, run by our ensemble of Disney Theatrical Teaching Artists who are both musical theatre professionals and educators. We also arrange backstage tours and Q&A sessions for school groups which prove very popular. As part of our outreach work, Disney Theatrical Productions offer an in-school residency programme Disney Musicals in Schools which is currently in its third year in London and will soon launch in Glasgow.

Social action

The Lion King’s central themes of community, responsibility and the ‘Circle of Life’ have inspired a social action initiative for which we have partnered with Young Citizens. 500 schools across the UK are currently undertaking a social action project using the framework. These free resources enable schools to devise and deliver a social action project of their choice and in telling us about their project, they can apply for a ‘Circle of Life’ Award to celebrate their achievement.

Creative careers

At Disney Theatrical Productions, we want to inspire young people who have an interest in our industry and inform them about the variety of career opportunities available in the theatre world, in particular backstage roles. We communicate this message in a number of ways, including behind the scenes videos that introduce young people to careers backstage. We’re excited to be launching a podcast series this autumn where presenter Chiara Lari meets various members of our team from different departments around the theatre. We’re also involved in cross industry initiatives like Inspiring the Future of Theatre and Theatrecraft day which educates young people about careers backstage. We’ll be attending the Skills London careers fair and looking for similar opportunities to talk to young people around the UK about careers as we embark on The Lion King tour.

Engagement in and access to the arts helps cultivate creative thinking and enables young people to communicate, understand ideas and viewpoints. Studying the arts or being involved in a school production can lead to the development of other supplemental skills including teamwork, self-belief, empathy, and an appreciation of diversity; all of which are integral to young peoples’ development.

We recognise the importance of equipping the next generation with both creative and technical skills, and the arts help young people to develop the knowledge and skills they need for a rewarding future.

For more information about The Lion King Education Programme visit and for more information generally on how Disney Theatrical Productions is supporting arts education visit

For information on how a school can put on a version of The Lion King visit

For further information about the ‘Circle of Life’ Award visit