Image Source: The National Theatre
I was lucky enough to spend Thursday and Friday last week attending the inaugural Drama Teacher’s Conference at the National Theatre in London. You may have seen me mention this once of twice on the blog before, but the NT truly is one of my favourite London attractions, not only as a teacher, but as an arts and theatre lover. Their £5 tickets for the under-26 was an amazing offer of which I took full advantage for many years!
Details of the conference were brought to my attention by the wonderful Karla of The Drama Teacher’s Network – a fabulous drama blog, that I encourage you to start reading immediately if you do not already. Karla had been contacted by the NT with a special offer, and so I found myself lucky again, and was able to attend the conference at a reduced rate. Woohoo! So far so good.
I arrived early at the NT on Thursday, to be greeted by Andy Pritchard, who works in Education and Learning at the NT, and possibly the *best* delegate pack I have ever had the fortune to be allocated! Seriously, the packs were so thoughtfully created – water, a notebook, a pencil and pen, as well as outlines for the two days and our schedules stuck on the front. Boom. It’s a great way of making your delegates feel welcome and prepared to learn.
There were so many sessions I would have loved to attend, but as I was a late registration many of them were fully booked! My sessions on Day 1 were on the following:
- Theatre Design with Tom Scutt
- Reviewing Live Theatre with Kate Basset and Catherine Love
- Panel Discussion: Careers
On the whole, I found the careers session the most valuable. While I found Tom Scutt’s work and the discussions with Kate and Catherine fascinating, there was also a bit of disconnect between what they do in the industry, and what we’re required to do in classrooms. It was in that respect that I could tell this was the first conference the NT had run – these sessions weren’t exactly tailored to what I need as a teacher, and as such I wasn’t able to come away with them with new ideas to implement immediately, although I enjoyed them immensely!
The careers session was absolutely wonderful, in a slightly angry way, which I know is confusing! We had a panel between the Head of Production, the Head of Apprenticeships and Head of Marketing all at the NT. Their main advice was to tell our students to get out there and do as much theatre work (even for free) as they can, if they want a career in the arts. It was actually helpful to know that this is still what most industry professionals are giving as advice; but frustrating because telling our students (and their parents) that they need to slog it out for next to no pay for 10 years doesn’t help us legitimise the arts as a profession. I came away from the session, however, feeling invigorated by the work ahead; it became clear that there is a real need for a stronger partnership between educators and professionals to create stronger pathways into the arts for all young people, not just those at either end of the socio-economic scales.
To tell you the truth, I was absolutely exhausted by the end of the first day, but I was really excited to return on Friday for more workshops. I feel so lucky to be a train ride away from such a wonderful resource: this sort of event is part of my answer when people ask me why I moved to rainy Britain!