Rachel Sears is the Programmes Manager (Education, Training and Jesters) here at The Court. Last weekend she attended The Court's Drama Students Showcase, where over 100 drama students took over The Court Theatre's mainstage - and had a blast. After the curtain closed on these young performers, Rachel took a moment to write about the experience - and what she learnt - below.
As part of The Court Theatre Education Programme, we look to provide opportunities for all learners to both participate and immerse themselves in the process of making theatre, while also experiencing the nerves, joy and pride found in performing.
Last Sunday, the 16th September, was the education department’s chance to take over the mainstage. Throughout the day over 100 students aged 7-16 shared work they had created with their friends and family on our mainstage. The stories told ranged from space banana exploits to robot take overs and even included a journey of female empowerment, with a princess rescuing a prince from a tower, perfect for the week we mark #Suffrage125. Our older students devised theatre inspired by works of art and I was impressed with the way they created atmosphere and humour using only their bodies and voices.
The creative work produced was awesome and the experience of filling a huge 390 seat venue with your voice and body was a huge learning opportunity for our students, especially our 7-year olds.
However, the support the performers had for each other and the powerful ensemble nature of the work was what really impressed me. Sharing the stage with your peers and supporting each other through rehearsal, nerves and presentation is a fantastic bonding experience and I look forward to seeing the leap forward our classes will have made after this experience when they come back next term.
The logistical enormity of 100 performers taking over the mainstage has given the department a chance to reflect on the power of these opportunities and remember that we must keep offering them to our students. Every term our adult and youth improvisation students share their work, many performing for others for the very first time. It’s a feat that’s often more daunting for our mature performers than it is for our young people.
Twice a year our Youth Company take the stage, and if June’s sold-out production of Vernon God Little was anything to go by, you’ll have to get in quick to secure a ticket to see Children of the Night. Children of the Night is the company’s adaptation of Dracula which they are creating with The Court’s Associate Director, Dan Bain, later this year.
I’m a big fan of creating a safe and fun rehearsal environment where creativity is celebrated and process is the focus, but sometimes I need reminding how valuable performance opportunities are – which is what this showcase gave me. A huge thanks to Riley (our Education Coordinator) and the entire tutoring team, the students and their families for giving me such a treat last weekend. I think you’re all stars!