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Connections, apprenticeships and booster cushions

Acting apprenticeships

I reviewed Changeling Theatre’s rather good Hamlet last week in the ruins of the old Garrison Church at Woolwich. I really liked the production and it is my fervent hope that we shall soon see/hear more of Alex Phelps who played the title role to the manner born. I was also impressed to hear from director Rob Forknall, before the show started, about the company’s apprenticeship scheme. Cary Ryan, who has just finished his A levels at Simon Langton Grammar School in Canterbury gave us a very entertaining Player Queen, along with other minor and ensemble roles. He is the company’s current apprentice – with them for the current tour, learning on the job from more experienced actors in the time honoured way, Forknall tells me that Cary is not paid because it’s a form of work experience. In a sense then, that benefits the company and it is most certainly an excellent opportunity for Cary. Win win. Why don’t more companies do this?

Connections plays

Every year National Theatre Connections invites playwrights to write new plays for student groups all over the country. They are done by schools, colleges, youth theatres and the like in regional festivals, Then the best production of each play comes to the South Bank for a festival weekend in July, It’s a wonderful scheme and has generated some very fine plays – all for large casts – over the years. The 10 new ones for 2017 have just  been published in a single meaty volume by Bloomsbury Methuen Drama. And if you didn’t see any of them (or even if you did) locally or nationally then they are well worth a read. Their shelf life begins here, of course, because all are available to perform and the addresses to apply to for performing rights are listed at the end of the book.

Booster seats in theatres

I also saw and reviewed What the Ladybird Heard at the end of last week. It is playing under Thriller Live at Lyric, Shaftesbury Avenue. The target audience is under 5s. Have you tried sitting, say a three year old in a conventional theatre seat? He or she slides back in the seat and can’t see the stage at all. They need booster cushions and any half decent theatre provides them. So why doesn’t The Lyric? Families are expected to pay for seats (lowest price £16.67) for these children which are then unusable. It is extremely uncomfortable for an adult to sit for an hour with a two stone child on a lap. And what is an adult who has brought more than one small child supposed to do?  Any theatre which stages children’s theatre should invest in booster cushions and it is disgraceful that some do not.

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Susan Elkin
Susan Elkin Susan Elkin is an education journalist, author and former secondary teacher of English. She was Education and Training Editor at The Stage from 2005 - 2016
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