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Appetite-whetting education resources for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Kerry Ingram (Matilda) in Matilda the Musical. Photo: Tristram Kenton
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Twenty three years after his death in 1990 Roald Dahl is still speaking very prominently to children, promoting reading and being a force for good in education, Witness the runaway success of Matilda the Musical whose eponymous heroine is a voracious reader.

Now we have a new, musical version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, directed by Sam Mendes, to look forward to next summer. Well, of course, given the popularity of the book with children and teachers for nearly 50 years (it was first published in 1964) I’d have been very surprised if there hadn’t been a well thought out education initiative to go with the show. No producer worth his or her salt would miss an obvious ticket-selling opportunity like that.

What they (Warner Brothers and various partners) have actually done is even more imaginative. Just released is the first part of a ‘Page To Stage’ multimedia education resource that will enable pupils to follow the creative journey of the production from the very early stages up to the world premiere at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane in June 2013. In other words teachers have over six months to do preparatory work before the show even opens. Nice one. The first part of the free resource is available to download now.

Part One is designed to inspire the imaginations of Key Stage 2-3 pupils, aged between 7-12 years. It provides interactive classroom-based activities that feature character cards and useful passages from Roald Dahl’s original story. And they really are fun and educative.

[pullquote]Such ‘insider’ stuff will excite many children who will then beg their teachers to take them to the show.[/pullquote]

Part Two, which will be available to download from February 2013, will broaden the scope to provide a cross-curricular insight into theatre’s creative process. We’re promised that will include “exclusive videos providing exciting behind the scenes footage and interviews”.

Douglas Hodge, who will star as Willy Wonka, in La Cage aux Follie. Photo: Tristram Kenton

If they do it well, such ‘insider’ stuff will excite many children who will then beg their teachers to take them to the show. And for teachers this could be the basis of a six month classroom project involving literacy, drama, technology and media – among other dimensions – culminating in the class theatre trip to Theatre Royal Drury Lane, no less. Certainly one of London’s more dramatic venues.

Tickets for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory are on sale now, for performances from May 18, 2013 until the end of the current booking period on Saturday  November 30, 2013. Olivier and Tony Award-winning actor Douglas Hodge is to play Willy Wonka and the official opening night is June 25.

I’m glad to see that they’re doing some good deals for schools too. School groups of 10 or more can purchase £49.50 tickets for £25.00, for Tuesday and Wednesday evenings and Wednesday matinee performances during term time. There’s an Education box office on 0844 412 4649 or email education@seetickets.com.

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