Stratford Circus Arts Centre and National Theatre stage free theatre shows for 5000 Newham Schoolchildren
This January all Year 6 students in the London Borough of Newham will have a chance to watch performances of William Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale as part of an initiative to introduce children to live theatre. Every Child a Theatregoer is a partnership between Stratford Circus Arts Centre and other local theatres alongside Newham Council which is now in its sixth year, with January’s performances taking place between 21st Jan and 1st Feb. For many children attending it will be their first visit to the theatre. The National Theatre’s production of The Winter’s Tale that the students will see is an abridged version of the text adapted by Justin Audibert and directed by Ruth Mary Johnson.
The aim of Every Child a Theatre goer is to ensure every child in Newham, East London is given a chance to see a theatre show before leaving primary school. In a time when arts provision in many schools around the country has been reduced, the programme alleviates the challenges schools and parents face in paying for theatre trips. The scheme has proved popular with teachers who are provided with classroom materials that can be used to enhance learning across a number of curriculum subjects including English, Maths, Science and Geography. In previous years 90% of teachers attending agreed that seeing the production had a positive impact on pupils’ attainment. The borough is known to have high rates of child poverty with statistics from End Child Poverty suggesting 2 in 5 children in Newham live in poverty.
This is the second time the National Theatre has staged a show at Stratford Circus as part of Every Child a Theatregoer having presented Romeo and Juliet in 2017. Other artists to have performed include Akram Khan, Gyre and Gimble with Fuel and Michael Rosen.
Alice King-Farlow, Director of Learning at the National Theatre said, “The Winter’s Tale is the perfect introduction to Shakespeare for young audiences. It is so exciting to be collaborating with Stratford Circus Arts Centre again to give every Year 6 pupil in Newham the opportunity to see this production. We believe that all children, no matter where they are in the UK, should have the opportunity to see, create and explore theatre as part of their core education and we hope this experience will open their eyes to theatre-making and spark their imaginations.”
Tania Wilmer, Director of Stratford Circus Arts Centre said: “Every Child a Theatregoer is an incredibly important project for Stratford Circus that gives many young people their first taste of live performance. Made possible through our important partnership with Newham Council, 5,000 children will see an exceptional theatre performance in their local venue. This is followed by an opportunity to discuss what they thought with the cast to create a relaxed, enjoyable and high-quality theatre experience which we hope will give them the confidence to seek out more.”
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