The REP theatre goes online to help young people

Birmingham Repertory Theatre has launched a new online project to help hundreds of young people across the Midlands this summer.

Although the REP’s actual stage is temporarily closed because of COVID-19, the theatre’s creative learning team has decided to go virtual with its REP RELOADED project.

This will include a 5-day a week interactive digital programme for schools that runs across the summer term until mid-July, and those taking part will be able to be creative online from the safety of their own homes.

Sean Foley, the artistic director at The REP, said: “Everybody at The REP has worked hard to develop and deliver a programme of engaging digital content for REP RELOADED.

“This new venture is typical of the groundbreaking work of The REP. We’re not open for performances, but we are continuing to create theatre in many ways.”

REP UNLOADED will see regular digital content and videos sent out to the following eight local schools:

  • Billesley Primary School
  • Braidwood Trust School for the Deaf
  • Hillstone Primary School, Shard End
  • Robin Hood Academy, Hall Green
  • Percy Shurmer Primary School, Highgate
  • Welsh House Farm Community School, Quinton
  • University of Birmingham Secondary School, and
  • Peter’s Hill Primary School, Stourbridge.

The programme will help students to tell digital stories through drama, learning adventures, storytelling, drawing, devising and writing plays.

Children will submit responses to the challenges which can be shared via school blogs, websites and REP channels. The REP will also provide access to British Sign Language (BSL) workshops.

Gill Sparrow, head teacher at Hillstone Primary School, said: “I am so impressed with this digital offering. It has meant that we have been able to continue our engagement with the arts for our pupils, specifically our strong links that we have with The REP.”

For youth theatres, REP RELOADED workshops hosted by professional directors at The REP will cover acting for screen, performing puppetry, devising, improvisation, monologues and creating plays.

And as part of Shifting The Dial, a national scheme to strengthen the mental wellbeing and skills of young black men, REP RELOADED is helping Lightpost Theatre Company to continue to create new plays of social and historical significance online.

As well as youth theatre provision, The REP will be streaming a selection of previous REP productions online, offering remote play-reading sessions for families and community participants.

It will also continue to provide activities for local young people in care as well as adult engagement.

Anyone interested in REP RELOADED should contact Alex Summers at The Rep on alex.summers@birmingham-rep.co.uk for more information.

By Steve Dyson.

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