4,500 school children from 67 primary schools in the London Borough of Newham will see a free production of Romeo and Juliet this January. The Bollywood-themed adaptation of Shakespeare’s tale of star-crossed lovers has been adapted for children aged seven and up by a team from the National Theatre. It will be presented at Stratford Circus Arts Centre between 18 Jan – 1 Feb in partnership with Newham Council as part of Every Child a Theatre Goer. For many it will be their first visit to the theatre and teachers have reported wide ranging social and academic benefits from the visits in previous years.
As well as enjoying the show, the residence by the National Theatre will open up the world of theatre to children who will find out about what goes into creating a stage show and the roles of the director, designer, choreographer and technicians. The benefits of early arts attendance is widely recognised and the government has recently begun piloting a Cultural Citizens scheme which will give children access to museums, galleries and theatre.
This is the fourth year that Stratford Circus Arts Centre has partnered with Newham Council and the Mayor of Newham, Sir Robin Wales, on Every Child a Theatre Goer. Each year, a show is specially selected that will support pupils’ learning experiences as well as ignite their imaginations and introduce them to the magic of live theatre. 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.
Teacher feedback for last year’s performance of Akram Khan’s Chotto Desh was resoundingly positive with 94% of teachers stating that visiting a theatre outside of school is an important experience for students.Practical skills teachers felt were enhanced by the visit included critical thinking and literacy.
Stratford Circus Arts Centre’s delivery of Every Child a Theatre Goer is part of the arts centre’s ongoing commitment to providing access to high quality artistic experiences for people living in Newham.
Speaking about the initiative, Stratford Circus Arts Centre’s Director Monique Deletant Bell said “Working with the Mayor of Newham and Newham Council to deliver Every Child a Theatre Goer makes a strong statement that every child in the borough has a right to access the best art regardless of their circumstances. It is particularly significant, and heartening, that Newham has continued to support access to the arts for children when the financial outlook for local authorities is increasingly challenging. As a local arts centre we value this partnership enormously and is something that we are committed to making the most of for our audiences – delivering maximum value for the Council, children and schools.”