Have you noticed how the landscape is changing? At long last we aren’t just talking about STEM any more – the future is about STEAM, and recognising the incredible contribution the arts make to a broad and balanced curriculum.
Theatre, for example, is a super-discipline that fires imaginations, stirs our emotions and prods our intellects. It’s an incredibly exciting and relevant art form and you can’t beat seeing a live production – but opening your students’ eyes to the sheer scale, diversity and breadth of possible performances can be almost impossible when you factor in geographical and economic boundaries.
Luckily, there is another way; and with online theatre you always have the best seats in the house and a backstage pass. It really levels the playing field.
Digital Theatre+ is an incredible arts education platform with real stage presence. This cutting-edge site is divided into three main parts: Plays & Productions, Practice & Practitioners and Theory & Criticism, each with a glorious collection of goodies inside.
For the Plays & Productions section, Digital Theatre+ has cherry-picked the very best video and audio performances and brought them together, as well as capturing leading productions as Digital Theatre original works. With over 340 on offer there is plenty to explore and immerse yourself in, from classical and contemporary theatre to radio plays, dance, opera and musicals.
You can jump from Don Giovanni, King Lear and Kafka’s Monkey to Far From the Madding Crowd, The Crucible, Iphigenia in Splott and beyond.
The kaleidoscopic cultural content on the platform is simply world-class, and the archive can be searched by form, genre, resource type and curriculum – including GCSE English and GCSE drama. Digital Theatre+ lends itself particularly well to flipped learning so that students can watch a performance in preparation for the next lesson. There is rich potential, too, for using this as a digital theatre club.
If you want to take a peek behind the wings and get a nitty gritty understanding of what theatre is really all about then you can, as the Practice & Practitioners section houses over 200 exclusive in-depth filmed interviews with actors, academics, writers, choreographers, directors, designers, musicians, technicians, stage managers and more.
These are fascinating insights into the roles people play in theatre, what they do and the passion they have for their work, that will have students queueing up for careers in the arts.
Theory & Criticism is the denser side of the site but don’t confuse this with being stuffy or remote. It isn’t.
This is the cerebral cortex, a playground to debate, discuss and dissect, a place where students can analyse and interact with a variety of themes and in a range of movements and styles. Here, learners can get under the skin of play texts, performances and theatre processes and understand the transition from a novel to a stage play and the dynamics involved.
There is an enormous assortment of insights on offer with multiple opportunities to investigate, interpret and reflect on themes related to everything from race and ethnicity to nation and migration across styles.
Resources include biographies, documentaries, essays, lectures, workshops, practical guides, productions and interviews; the wealth of material on offer is mind-blowing.
The massively detailed but highly accessible study guides will be particularly useful; written by renowned academics and practitioners, their quality is assured and they delve into plot, character, language, historical context and authors with considerable aplomb. Full of hyperlinks, students can hop, skip and jump into new territory independently and explore on their own.
This resource is a real time saver. If you subscribe you get easy and unrestricted access to first-class, curriculum-mapped resources and it’s available to students 24/7, at school and at home, so they can access content anytime and anywhere.
It represents great value for money, too, especially when you think about how much it costs to organise a theatre trip. Starting from just £445 ex VAT depending on school size* (Price given is based on a state-funded school with fewer than 300 students) you can get a licence, open the stage door and get unrestricted access to loads of performances and resources for a fraction of the cost; and its ‘access all areas’ structure means that students get unparalleled theatrical insights and a far deeper understanding of the complexities, challenges and creative energies involved in a performance; leading ultimately to a level of understanding they would never achieve otherwise.
Digital Theatre+ is a front-row, five-star resource packed to the rafters with great content, and with engagement and motivation written all over it. It deserves multiple curtain calls.
Reviewed by John Dabell