Arts Theatre Summer School
went along to one of the rehearsals before the big show. The
summer school performers only have 10 days to make a piece
of drama, but yet when I entered the Guild Hall in Cambridge
to watch them, I was happy to see that they were taking time
warming up and doing exercises about body language and how
to present yourself on stage.
the Education and Community Manager explained to me what was
happening that day and took me to see the tech crew as well
to see what they were up to. I was amazed by what the tech
crew were doing - things such as heavy lighting. Roberta went
on to say they can do anything for the stage such as hanging
silks and moving objects - I really wish I was good at electrical
stuff, but these guys really impressed me!
went back to the hall and watched the group get ready to start
rehearsing. The Cambridge summer school is not like any other
summer school. It's a partnership with The National Deaf Children's
Society. It offers deaf and hearing kids the opportunity to
get together to create ways of presenting mainstream theatre,
working towards a final performance for a live audience at
the end of the summer school. The Summer school is for ages
13-18 and it truly inspired me. I could have stayed for the
whole day and watched the young performers interact and develop
their piece of drama; however I will be attending the final
production and will be reviewing it.
looking forward to watching this, as I love anything to do
with theatre and I know this will definitely be a production
I had a quick interview with Roberta to find out what Cambridge
Theatre Summer School was really about..."
me about the Cambridge Arts Theatre summer school:
arrived at the Arts Theatre seven years ago when the theatre
was in financial trouble. The building closed temporarily
in the summer of '98 to save money, which meant that the stage
was empty and the staff had very little to do. I was asked
to create a summer school so that young people could make
use of the building, the stage and the technical crew.
always believe that education should be as challenging as
possible. I personally find British Sign Language (BSL) a
rich and dramatic language. Why not try to integrate all that
is good about
spoken performance with all that is exciting about Sign performance?
It seemed the moment to try something absolutely new and so
the Deaf and Hearing Summer School was launched. There is
quite a lot of information about those early years on our
do the deaf and hearing people communicate?
have never had big problems with young deaf and hearing people
working together. We start with a short, fast, deaf awareness
training morning where everyone learns the alphabet, how to
sign their name, and dips into deaf culture. BSL is a rich,
wonderfully expressive, physical language. The visual, bi-lingual
theatre style we are striving for seems to come very easily
to young people who tend to have open minds and lots of imagination.
Often it's the older members of the production team that have
to try and re-think old ideas in order to keep up.
play are you doing this year and when is it?
always devise our own play because there is no work out there
that uses English and BSL equally. We don't want to start
solely in English and translate into BSL because that limits
the vision and scope of our performers. All language carries
a strong bias, and if you start in English, lots of artistic
decisions are made without you even realising it."
performance is on FRIDAY 20th AUGUST at 7pm followed by a
post-show discussion with the company and an on-stage
party after that. The evening should end at about 9.0pm. Tickets
are free but please book in advance so we know how many are
can people do if they want to take part in next year's summer
"If you email the education department with your postal
address, telephone and date of birth, we will send you an
early application form next February or early March. Or you
can check the website around that time and register online.
We have already started advertising next year in our theatre
brochure - so keep one handy for details."
also have a Tech Team which must work really well. What are
they doing for the production?
"We are very proud of the technical places on the
summer school. Ten young people aged 15-18 really do work
one-to-one with professional designers, sound and lighting
experts and stage management crew to create, rehearse and
run the final performance. Every aspect of the theatre is
available from 'flying' in scenery to star cloths, special
effects, smoke machines, every conceivable sound and lighting
cue you could imagine. It's a great opportunity for anyone
who prefers a more hands-on skill, and it fits really well
with the new drama and media foundation courses on offer at
colleges these days and we have had several summer school
technicians go on to work professionally in theatre."
more information about Cambridge Arts Theatre and the Summer
School Performance check out www.cambridgeartstheatre.com
Deaf Association - www.britishdeafassociation.org.uk
Deaf Children's Society - www.ndcs.org.uk