Celebrating 50 years of theatre in education at the Belgrade in Coventry
A few weeks ago Coventry’s Belgrade Theatre celebrated fifty years of their Theatre in Education programme. Their aim since 1965 has been to inspire, inform and provoke debate about current social issues amongst young people and to make sure that theatre is an activity that unites people from many backgrounds. I went along to a 2 day conference at the theatre to learn about some of the theatre projects going on across the country – and world! – which strive to inspire and involve children and young people today.
Although so many companies are struggling due to a lack of funding there are some very intriguing projects going on. In Coventry dancers are helping classes of children to devise dances which they perform in empty city centre shops, Derby theatre has formed a team of cared-for children to be their advisory team for a piece of theatre about care and how it affects children’s lives, a small-scale Birmingham company is working to target radicalisation through theatre in secondary schools and having to change their work with every new big news event that happens! The people I met were all passionate about making more caring, communicative and safer communities – wherever we live – through the uniting power of theatre.
One phrase that stood out for me was spoken by journalist Lyn Gardner, who reminded us, as practitioners, not to ask: ‘how intelligent is this child?’ but instead ‘how is this child intelligent?’ At Glow we are always looking for the sparks of talent, of intelligence, children and young people show us.