From Britten to apprenticeships, courses and shows

Benjamin Britten. Photo: Roland Haupt
Susan Elkin
Susan Elkin is a journalist specialising in training and education.
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Considering last week was half term, when many people were on holiday, a surprising amount of useful training, and training-related, information reached me.

First came news that Angels the Costumiers, a major supplier of costumes to the film, television and entertainment industries, has held its first showcase to demonstrate the work of its newly founded apprenticeship scheme. Angels are now in the second year of offering Creative Apprenticeships in association with Amersham & Wickham College and supported by Creative and Cultural Skills. This paid, work-based, training programme offers candidates a direct route into a career in wardrobe, with a high level of guidance and training from established industry experts. Founded by Morris Angel in 1840, the company also offers both work experience placements and graduate internships.

Second, I was delighted to hear that National Theatre is taking its new version of Romeo and Juliet to no fewer than twenty-seven London primary and secondary schools through the rest of the summer term. It’s supported by an extensive education programme consisting of five creative learning workshops, led by National Theatre specialists, using storytelling techniques and rehearsal room exercises to explore the play. With a reduced text for young audiences by Ben Power and directed by Bijan Sheibani, Romeo and Juliet will also run in The Shed at the National Theatre from 24 July – 18 August. It is suitable for anyone over 8.

Third, Half Moon Young People’s Theatre has brought together final year acting students from Rose Bruford College of Theatre & Performance with local children from schools in Tower Hamlets to develop a new garden themed adventure for 3-7s. Dig and Delve opens to the public tomorrow for a week of performances at Half Moon in Limehouse. It features a cast of nine with live music throughout from over 10 different instruments, including an accordion, harp, mandolin, ukulele, double bass and saxophone. The show invites audiences to dig, fork and rake in the rich soil of a magical garden, “where,” we’re promised, “a world of exciting adventures with unexpected new friends begins.” The show runs all this week with lots of daytime performances. www.halfmoon.org.uk or call the theatre’s Box Office on 020 7709 8900.

Fourth, and still with Rose Bruford, comes the news that this week from June 5-8 its School of Design, Management and Technical Arts is showcasing student work with 120 graduates in costume production, creative lighting control, lighting design, theatre design, scenic arts, performance sound and stage management. The exhibition which features, among other things, scene costume, lighting and sound designs is on three floors of the Oxo Tower, just a short walk along the Thames path, east of the National Theatre. There’s more info about Bruford on the South Bank on the school's website.

Fifth, applications are now open for the postgraduate certificate in applied theatre for young people which Almeida Projects runs in collaboration with Royal Central School of Speech and Drama. It is suitable for theatre artists from all disciplines wanting to work in education including writers, directors, actors and technicians. The course is taught part-time for one year. The commitment to education at the Almeida has gone from strength to strength during Michael Attenborough’s tenure and it will be interesting to see how Rupert Goold develops it.

And finally I popped into the British Library on Thursday for a press view of its new exhibition: Poetry in Sound: the Music of Benjamin Britten (1913-1976). Britten was, of course, among many other things, a great promoter of musical drama through his operas such as Turn of the Screw and my all time favourite, Noye’s Fludde – not to mention his fantastic and deeply moving War Requiem. What I hadn’t realised was the extent to which literature dominated his work and thinking.

The exhibition doesn’t mention Alan Bennett’s play The Habit of Art, which fictionally explores the relationship between the composer and the poet WH Auden, although I couldn’t help remembering it while I was there. Britten and his partner Peter Pears were also great champions of education and the development of young talent – another reason I was drawn to this opportunity to learn more about their work. The interesting exhibition, which makes imaginative use of multimedia, with lots of archive recordings and Britten’s fascinating, oh-so-neat manuscript scores, continues in the Folio Society Gallery until September 15.

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