Spring shows at the Alhambra Theatre, Bradford are focus for work with leading arts education charity Children & the Arts
Children from local schools will make at least two visits to the Alhambra Theatre in Bradford to see a selection of shows as part of the Start programme during their first year of the programme. They will then work with the team at the Alhambra Theatre in workshops to develop their critical eye and have fun creating their own artistic work, with plenty of opportunity to celebrate their achievements at the end of each year.
 
During the current spring 2018 season, Bradford schools will bring students to see a range of shows at the Alhambra Theatre: the National Theatre’s War Horse, Touring Consortium Theatre Company’s Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde and Birmingham Stage Company’s adaptation of David Walliams’ Awful Auntie.
 
The local schools participating in the planned in-school activities and bringing students to see these productions at the Alhambra Theatre are: Beckfoot Upper Heaton, Bradford College, Feversham College, Grange Technology College, Samuel Lister Academy and Southmere Primary Academy.
 
The National Theatre’s world renowned drama production War Horse links to World War 1 and the anniversary of the end of the war. Some schools also study the book by Michael Morpurgo and the production is highly suitable for children aged 11-14 years who are studying Drama, English and History.
 
During February, four of the schools - Beckfoot Upper Heaton, Feversham College, Grange Technology College and Samuel Lister Academy - will bring students to see the production of War Horse at the Alhambra Theatre, preceded by a Page to Stage lecture led by staff from the National Theatre.
 
Before seeing the show, the students will also participate in workshops in school led by Julia O’Keeffe, Learning Coordinator for Bradford Theatres. The workshops include activities such as puppetry creation; drama workshops; the creation, collation and publication of War poetry; and studying animals in war.
 
Teachers Tasmia Kauser and Shakila Nawaz at Feversham College comment:
“This is a fantastic opportunity for our students to explore, experience and educate themselves through the arts. The arts have been neglected and this is a way for students to reclaim, recreate and ignite their imagination.”
 
Students from Feversham College add:
“The START project is fun and provides me with an opportunity to talk to other students about practical learning and explore other ways to express ourselves.”
 
“I really enjoyed the workshop experience and am looking forward to visiting the Alhambra Theatre to watch War Horse and meet the actors but also to see how puppets are brought to life!”
 
Kelsey Clarridge (Higher Level Teaching Assistant) and Gary K W Pang (Aspiring Lead Practitioner English) at Grange Technology College says:
“Grange Technology College has embarked upon an exciting voyage of creative discovery with the Alhambra Theatre. Thirty Year 9 students have been invited to work closely with theatre professionals to explore literary texts through the medium of drama and performance. They will take part in workshops where they will learn what it is like to be a professional actor, using the same techniques and routines that our stars of stage and screen have used to develop and hone their skills. In addition they will go behind the scenes at the Alhambra Theatre and explore all the exciting opportunities for future careers that exist in the creative arts industries.
 
We had our first workshop with Julia, who led the group through a series of professional warm ups before teaching the students about puppetry and performance. They were a real credit to our school and made us all very proud to be teachers at Grange Technology College. This is just the beginning. Over the next 3 years students from Grange Technology will continue to work in partnership with the Alhambra Theatre on this project and open the eyes of our students to the exciting world of the theatre.”
 
David Walliams’ book Awful Auntie is brought to life by the award-winning Birmingham Stage Company and visits the Alhambra Theatre at the end of March. Southmere Primary Academy will bring children to see the show during its visit, and will get the chance to look around back-stage during a tour led by the company. They will also enjoy an Active Techniques Workshop before seeing the show, which will focus on story-telling and literacy.
 
The new drama production of Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde, produced by Touring Consortium Theatre Company and using David Edgar’s play-script, visits the Alhambra Theatre during April. Beckfoot Upper Heaton, Bradford College, Feversham College, Grange Technology College and Samuel Lister Academy will bring students to the Alhambra Theatre to see the play. They will also participate in activities devised by both the production company and Julia O’Keeffe, Learning Coordinator for Bradford Theatres.
 
Some of the activities that the students can participate in will include a back-stage tour; a Page to Stage Talk; a Young Journalist programme for theatre production criticism, giving access to the performers, backstage staff and the creative team; an in-school workshop based on KS3/4 literacy, focusing on themes such as story-telling, mental health and personal identity.
 
Adam Camp, Head of English and Drama at Beckfoot Upper Heaton says:
“The scheme is a fantastic way to get children, who may have been deprived the opportunity, involved in theatre and the arts. Both the pupils and myself are extremely excited about getting to see both War Horse and Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. The productions themselves will help our pupils to increase their cultural capital and historical knowledge whilst also enjoying top-class theatre right on their doorstep.”
 
Esther Wilkey, teacher for English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) at Bradford College comments:
“The Start programme has already impacted on the ESOL students’ progress and learning. As they face huge challenges (imagine being a teenager who has recently arrived in the UK and is trying to adapt to a new life, language and culture), they have already attended workshops to facilitate a better understanding of the skills that a cast must master in order to present a play. However, the learning goes much deeper than this: their reflective homework includes comments about ‘the things that I thought would be easy are so difficult, and yet the actors make it look natural’, ‘after the workshop I felt more confident and knew that I could master my fears’, ‘my presentation skills have improved as I have practised speaking with confidence’, ‘it has helped us realise how important it is to work as a team and to support each other’.
 
They all agree that the previous trip to participate in a British pantomime was an uplifting and enriching experience. This time they will be able to see a visual representation of Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde that will literally open their eyes to new ways of experiencing a book that they have studied. A spectacular production, a moment of escape and another step towards their goal of further education, they all know how very lucky they are to be part of this.”
 
The Start programme is proven to raise the aspirations of young people, building confidence and helping with learning and development in school. It also provides teachers with training for them to deliver the arts programme, helping pupils realise their full potential and making links to the curriculum.
 
Councillor Sarah Ferriby, Bradford Council’s Executive Member for Environment, Sport and Culture, says:
“I am very excited that we have this fantastic opportunity to be involved with the START programme which allows so many young people from across Bradford to access quality culture and theatre. Many of them have never been to the theatre before; and hearing about their enjoyment both during the shows and workshops, will be truly inspiring and energising. This project also illustrates how very important the Arts are in developing young people’s sense of identity and empathy, which ultimately enriches every part of their learning journey through school and beyond.”

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