For many years we have been partnered with the National Theatre, perhaps one of the most famous producing houses for British theatre of all time. Based on the Southbank in London, the National Theatre has a long heritage for producing world-class work on the stage. What many people don’t realise, however, is that the work of its Learning Department is equally remarkable!
The National Theatre’s Connections programme has been running for decades. Commissioning brand new plays each year by leading playwrights, designed for young people and large casts, this gives youth theatre, school groups and more the opportunity to perform quality plays on professional stages. And each year ten are chosen to perform on the stages of the National itself – an incredible experience for a young company.
Last year we started to work more closely on Connections, producing a comprehensive pack for Connections directors to be able to easily achieve Arts Award Bronze alongside their Connections journey, and we look forward to continuing this partnership this year. If you are working with older young people, why not give them additional responsibility for directing, producing, set or lighting design and enable them to also complete their Silver or Gold Award?
Another programme we have been thrilled to be partnered with for a number of years is New Views. New Views is the National Theatre’s annual playwriting programme for 14 to 19-year-olds.
Every year, hundreds of students from across the UK learn about playwriting from some of the finest writers in the industry and write their own 30-minute plays. One play will then be selected to be produced at the NT with a professional cast and crew, alongside rehearsed readings of the shortlisted plays.
We deliver training at the annual New Views training weekend, enabling participating teachers to become Arts Award advisers and support young people working on New Views to achieve Arts Award Gold. New Views offers opportunities for young people to extend their arts practice, work with professionals, experience events and workshops and learn about the wider sector. Our joint mapping resource gives more information.
And last but by no means least, over the past 12 months we have worked closely with the Let’s Play team to support primary schools to achieve Discover alongside this programme. Let’s Play provides primary schools with everything they need to make an outstanding piece of theatre. Schools taking part receive access to eight new scripts for children, music scores, CPD sessions for teachers and much more. All the activities in Let’s Play contribute towards an Arts Award Discover, and so far almost 300 children have achieved their Discover Award via Let’s Play.
The National Theatre has many more opportunities for young people to engage in theatre and theatre making – such as its upcoming Young Technicians programme, the upcoming National Theatre Collection scheme giving schools access to NT Live recordings, and its free to access Sherling Backstage Walkway at the National Theatre, taking you right into the heart of the backstage areas (tried and tested and definitely worth a visit if you’re in the area).
Needless to say, Arts Award is delighted to be working so closely with so many National Theatre programmes and we look forward to what the future can bring!
If you are delivering Arts Award as part of Connections, New View or Let’s Play let us know in the comments below – we would love to profile some of your experiences in future blog posts.