Careers in Theatre is one of Half Moon’s flagship programmes for secondary schools in Tower Hamlets and beyond that has been running since 1997 in different formats. The concept behind the programme is to give students a hands-on introduction to theatre-making that inspires those studying Drama at school to think about a broad spectrum of career opportunities in the creative industries. The programme has developed into a format where it runs across three phases to give students an experience that builds up across a school year, normally when students are in Year 10. The programme has worked with all secondary schools in Tower Hamlets since it first began and additional schools from Southwark and Newham since 2012.
The first project of this nature happened in 1994 with a Tower Hamlets programme called Getting Ahead, funded by Lehman Brothers. Half Moon was invited to take part in the programme and the training team offered practical hands-on experience in technical skills to students in their final years of school.
This is how the programme runs in its current format:
In Phase 1, around 50 students from different schools come to the theatre for a day and work in teams of Acting, Lighting, Sound, Design and Stage Management to create a play in a day as a theatre company. Professionals from each field work with the students to help them to realise their ideas and designs; making and presenting that work by the end of the day. As part of the process, students explore extracts of texts for teenage audiences that are in development at Half Moon and the writers of the pieces observe the process to see how young people interpret their work in terms of the writing, and the lighting, sound and set design. In total we normally work with about 350 students each year in Phase 1.
In Phase 2 around 50 students return to look more in-depth at careers pathways. Sometimes this is in the form of an audition bootcamp and a panel discussion about progression routes and different artists’ experience of entering the industry.
In Phase 3, one student from each school comes back to Half Moon to do a week of work experience.
You can find more information about the programme, which we are currently running, on the Half Moon website.
Rosemary Harris is a spoken word artist who has developed four plays with Half Moon in the period between 2010 and 2016. Here she talks about how useful the Careers in Theatre project has been in helping her to develop new work. Interviewed by Beccy Allen.
Adam Annand, Associate Director at Half Moon Theatre in the 2000s, talks about the Careers in Theatre project for teenagers and the lengths the company went to with the staging of one particular production. Interviewed by Alexia-Pyrrha Ashford.
Vishni Velada-Billson was Education Officer at Half Moon Theatre on White Horse Road in the late 1990s and became Associate Director in the early 2000s. She talks about Careers in Theatre, a practical project for teenagers to learn about the creative and technical aspects of creating a production. Interviewed by Daisy Snooks.
Anna-Maria Nabirye is an actor and workshop facilitator who has worked with Half Moon Theatre on White Horse Road since the mid-2000s. She talks about the company’s Careers in Theatre project, which she believes makes a contribution to the diversification of the workforce entering the the arts. Interviewed by Rio Puffett.
James Grant, a composer and music producer talks about what he drew on for inspiration when working on young people’s projects at Half Moon Theatre, and the satisfaction he gained from the Careers in Theatre project. Interviewed by Alexia-Pyrrha Ashford.
Ruth Finn is a theatre designer who has also worked as a facilitator for Half Moon Theatre on White Horse for a number of years since 2000. She talks about working on the Careers in Theatre programme for the company and how it empowers the teenage participants and brings them ‘alive’. Interviewed by Kavana Joyett.
Chris Elwell has been the Director of Half Moon Theatre on White Horse Road since 1997. He talks about a selection of the company’s schools’ projects, including Transitions, Lyrical Laps, Dramatic Maths and Careers in Theatre. Interviewed by Kavana Joyett.
A documentary of Phase 1 of Careers in Theatre 2012-2013
A marketing video created by the Stage Management Team in Careers in Theatre 2014
A teacher talks about what Careers in Theatre offers students
These are tracks created by students during Careers in Theatre 2014
These are tracks created by students during Careers in Theatre 2015
Feedback from students (Careers in Theatre, 2000)
We used our personal experiences to create an improvised play, and created something really good in a short space of time. We used props and shadows and language to create a Bangladeshi bazaar, and incense to create the smells of Bangladesh.
Student, Stepney Green Boys School
Honestly, I would not change a thing about Careeers in Theatre. It was very well organised and the tutors were really inspiring. We enjoyed meeting people of different ethnic backgrounds and hearing their experiences.
Student, Mulberry School
Feedback from Teachers (Careers in Theatre, 2000)
Huge learning curve for the pupils. They were able to see, learn and experience new drama and theatre techniques in context. A great process for them to go through, and they produced some lovely work… An uncomplicated way of introducing technical equipment with live performance. The staff to student ratio was very good and tutors demonstrated excellent teaching skills.
Head of Drama, Central Foundation School for Girls
An excellent learning experience – enjoyable, exciting. Strong use of creativity and thinking skills. Excellent coverage of each technical art form and personal/social development.
Head of Drama, Mulberry School
The boys were much more focussed than they often are in class. They were making such an effort to be engaged at every moment in each activity.
Head of Drama, Stepney Boys School