A real class act
ALL the stage is a world of learning for school children who are creating two productions for the Theatre Royal Plymouth.
The pupils are getting ready to share what they have learned in getting a play from the page to the Drum stage.
The School Ties project covers every aspect of a play from writing the words and rehearsing the drama to performing the work, as well as the backstage tasks vital for a production and the all-important ticket sales and marketing.
The process began over a year ago and involves young people from Eggbuckland Community College and Austin Farm Primary School.
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They have worked with professionals through TR2, the Theatre Royal production and education centre in Cattedown.
From January 30 to February 1 the curtain will go up on their plays in the Drum, the Theatre Royal's second space.
Eggbuckland pupils have written A Girl Called Eva.
This is the story of a shy girl who wants to fit in – but will revealing her secret help everyone to accept her?
Austin Farm children's work is The Lemons' Labyrinth Lives, following twins who go into foster care.
As they adjust to their new situation, one seamlessly fits in and the other struggles with rejection.
The twist is that the older pupils write for the younger ones to perform.
Fran King, the Theatre Royal's education producer, says: "School Ties has been running since 2009 when it started with a pilot.
"This is very much about a primary engaging with their secondary school, where most of them will go on to.
"It is also about audience development. It encourages their parents who might not be regulars at the theatre."
Not all the children are interested only in the "glamour" roles in the spotlight. Just as many are keen on being behind-the-scenes or front of house.
Each school also has an offstage team responsible for marketing, house management and sales.
Selling tickets is a fundamental part of the learning process – and there is a great incentive if they get it right.
"The children get the chance to be 'ruthless business people' and create a profit – and they usually do," says Fran.
"Usually it is a couple of hundred pounds, which the school can use to take children as a group to the theatre or use on workshops here."
Tickets for the plays are available from the Theatre Royal box office.