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United Learning’s Access to Theatre Programme Enjoys a Successful Finale

Students and staff from state and independent sectors collaborate with theatre professionals for two regional showcase events

Students from United Learning came together at the end of April for the culmination of our ‘Access to Theatre – AcT’ programme, designed to bring together teachers, students and industry practitioners and widen access to professional theatre.

The programme follows recent research from the Sutton Trust which shows that leading British actors are more than twice as likely as stars from the music industry to have attended fee-paying schools (Feb 2016). We designed the project to broaden the cultural experiences of young people across the Group, with 12 of its secondary schools from across the state and independent sectors collaborating on the project.This year, we partnered with Frantic Assembly, an internationally renowned theatre company inspiring innovative practice and unlocking creative potential. As a leading contemporary theatre company, it is known for productions such as ‘Things I know to be True’ and its acclaimed work on the National Theatre production of ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time’.

Performing Arts teachers from across the Group participated in continuing professional development (CPD) in London and Manchester this January to train with Frantic Assembly artists. This was followed by in-school workshops for students, further CPD for staff and culminated with collaborative showcase events for students in Manchester on April 20th (The Dancehouse) and London on April 21st (The Arts Theatre). Students performed their own devised work, on the theme of ‘Identity’ at these showcases, as part of United Learning’s 2017 national cultural festival, the “IDeas Festival”.

Hope, a student from Dunottar School, said:

“The best thing about the day was being able to perform the piece we had been working on in front of other schools and on a professional stage. I really loved the workshops in the morning – I especially enjoyed doing these with students from other schools.”

Catherine Barker, our Head of Music and Performing Arts at United Learning, said:

“It has been amazing to see students and staff from United Learning develop their skills and confidence, both in physical theatre, devising material and even beyond drama throughout this programme.

“We have all found the partnership with Frantic Assembly incredibly inspiring – they have shown our schools what is really possible with their creativity, flair and professionalism. Most importantly, our students have risen to the challenge of working in a professional environment with industry experts: that will stay with them in their theatre-making and beyond.”

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Posted: May 2, 2017,
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Author: Jess
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