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Creative Learning in Theatre

By Alice Morris

The British theatre. An establishment of entertainment, temple of talent, domicile of drama. The buzz in and around any arts house gearing up for a show is palpable every evening as audiences gather to be entertained by some of the country's finest talent, in some of the country's finest buildings.

What, then, happens after the curtains go down and a new day dawns? If your answer to the above is ‘nothing' then you are talking tommy-rot. There are all sorts that keep theatres a buzzing hive of activity - from auditions and rehearsals to filming and meetings. In case you haven't guessed, however, this post is all about the educational classes, workshops and courses that ATG theatres across the UK run, and that we like to put under the umbrella term 'Creative Learning'.

Creative Learning: what's on offer?

Over the course of a year, more than 70,000 people participated in ATG's Creative Learning activities across the UK (Yes. Seventy. Thousand). Feel like you may be missing out? Here's what goes down in these educative workshops and courses:

Show related activity

There is nothing more fulfilling than being able to appreciate the significance of a plot, a stage direction, a line. With the new school year in full swing, now is the time to shine the spotlight on the resources that are out there to get both adults and children alike stuck into theatre.Pre and post show show talks, production workshops and educational packs for the classroom are held for the even most unexpected productions. From Shakespeare and Dickens to Grease and Legally Blonde, there are opportunities to study all sorts of productions in greater depth. In so doing, participants learn about the art of staging a show and are able to appreciate all sorts of nuances that might otherwise be missed when sitting in the stalls.

Participatory Theatre

In essence, putting down the notes and getting on the stage. Theatres up and down the country have thrown their doors open to anyone that wants to try their hand at theatre production. ATG Theatres are focusing increasingly on Access Projects, collaborating with organisations such as Mencap and ELITE to ensure everyone has the chance to get involved with theatre. All in all, participatory theatre develops skills, either informally or under more challenging circumstances. But hey, don't just take our word for it:

‘It brought people together no matter what our abilities or disabilities to celebrate the joy of dance'

York Press about Fiddler on the Roof, York Opera House Stage Experience.   

Special Projects

ATG's Special Projects are orchestrated by our theatres to respond to a specific local need. 2013, for example saw young people with disadvantaged communities brought together by The ATG Foundation to write and perform five interlinking plays for the Cultural Olympiad, which were staged in six events across the UK. In Glasgow, meanwhile, Creative Learning joined forces with Matthew Bourne's education strand to get local boys involved in dance. The result was a screening at Glasgow Film Theatre's Youth Film Festival of their brainchild, Beastie, and a performance at the Theatre Royal, Glasgow. The list goes on, but by no means is limited to ATG venues alone. If there is a need in your area, don't hold back from approaching your local venue to see what you can come up with. 

The Ripple Effect part of London 2012 Festival

Work related learning

Have some time off? There are all sorts nationwide for hands on experience in your local theatre. It could be a short stint of shadowing, a ‘Work in Theatre' course or a full on internship. Anyone working in the industry will know that to get anywhere, experience is needed, and venues up and down the country are opening their doors to give people a chance. Have a quick peek at our getting a job in the theatre industry blog for further deets.

So, what have we learnt?

For one, Creative Learning extends far beyond sitting at a classroom desk and trudging through an Educational Pack for The Merry Wives of Windsor. For another, no-one is too old, young, tall, squat, hairy, bald or otherwise to get involved. The point is to do so. We are enormously privileged to have such an enormous number of theatres across the country, many of which have resources that people of all ages and abilities are taking advantage of. G'wan - go get stuck in.