Stage Experience: In Conversation with Coordinator Emily Davies
What is Stage Experience at New Wimbledon Theatre?
Stage Experience gives young people aged 11-18 the chance to find out what life is like as a professional musical theatre performer. Over the course of the two week rehearsal period the cast work with a professional director, choreographer and musical director, producing a high-quality production of Guys and Dolls JR.
Produced by the in-house Creative Learning department, our aim is to create an unforgettable experience for all participants. The fortnight culminates in three fully-staged performances on the main-stage of New Wimbledon Theatre, a fantastic opportunity!
Tell us about the Show…
Guys and Dolls is often referred to as one of the most perfect comedy musicals ever written. It bursts to life with big, brash and bold characters performing classic musical numbers such as ‘Luck be a Lady Tonight’, ‘Sit Down you’re rocking the Boat’ and ‘I’ve Never been in Love Before’.
Set in New York, the city that never sleeps, the show fosters a narrative around inhabitants amidst all walks of life. From the news seller to the chorus girl, from the gambler to the missionary – all of them caught up in the teeming vitality of the city streets.
The cast have the opportunity to sing, dance and act all the monumental numbers in full costume, with lights, set and a professional band.
Why Stage Experience? Well, why theatre at all?
Having worked with young people in theatre for over fifteen years now, I have on numerous occasions experienced the positive difference theatre and music can make to the lives and education of children as well as adults! Whether someone is a theatre fanatic or not, these creative experiences are second to none. Children can develop skills such as, public speaking, reading and understanding text and a general grasp of language. Alongside this they ascertain how to work independently and as part of a team, as well as those all important social skills. Above all else the sense of fun and achievement develops such wonderful confidence.
As a teacher, for me every single encounter with a child matters. I could recount many of them for you here but that would make this more of a book than a blog so below is one of my favourite memories –
A boy who suffered with severe anger issues at only age 9 spent his days at school labelled as ‘difficult’, ‘naughty’, and ‘unable to progress’. When I first met him, even standing still was difficult. But soon, outside of the school environment he was able to create new labels for himself as ‘talented’, ‘hardworking’, and ‘conscientious’. This was due to his love of drama and music, therefore his drive to succeed in these subjects by learning to manage his anger in other locales helped him gain a sense of great achievement and self-worth, filtering through to his school life and helping with his academic studies.
In an age where funding for the arts in education tends to be lacking, I think it is so vital that we recognise its benefits and create new opportunities for young people to experience not only different aspects creativity, but to utilise these kinds of arts platforms to find out who they are and who they can become.
I am an advocate towards children and young people having alternative outlets for their minds and emotions. They need space to discover, to be brave, to laugh, to bond and most importantly to be different or should I say, to just be themselves.
Surmise some points as to why Stage Experience…
1. It’s a fun and exciting way to spend two weeks of the summer holiday.
2. It’s a fantastic experience for both those who are interested in going further within the theatre industry and those just looking to have fun doing something different. (Not forgetting the cast will be working with industry professionals!)
3. Performing on the main stage at one of the country’s leading regional theatres in front of friends and family is an exciting opportunity.
4. It will help develop their imagination and improve concentration and focus.
5. Children will gain confidence working on text and using language to be engaging and expressive.
6. Confidence, confidence, confidence!
7. If you’re already very confident, it gives you a great platform to embrace, express and hone your talent.
8. It provides a great sense of achievement.
9. Making new friends and lasting memories are a given!
I’d like to finish on one of my favourite and valued quotes by Albert Einstein.
‘Everybody is a Genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid’
Theatre is inclusive of everybody. It can open doors for those who otherwise feel excluded and will embrace those ready to jump in. That’s why Theatre, so that’s why Stage Experience.
Guy and Dolls JR runs August 17th-18th, click here for tickets and for details of how to apply.