The Izzard Theatre is five!
It’s hard to believe that in November 2018 the Izzard Theatre will have been open for 5 years, it seems only a moment ago that we were preparing for our Gala opening with our patron and namesake Eddie Izzard.
Being in the Izzard Theatre has really helped the Performing Arts section here at Bexhill College flourish. Having our own theatre has given us the opportunity to expand creative possibilities. In the past five years we have produced a wide range of work across all of our disciplines with our students. This Includes performances of Carousel, Titanic, Our House, Sweeny Todd, Company, Road, Punk Rock, as well as acoustic gigs, music and dance evenings all receiving positive audience responses.
We have worked hard to create a new generation of audiences by working with local Primary schools with hundreds of young people coming into the Izzard Theatre to enjoy our annual Christmas show and pantomime and our interactive performance days with the topics such as World War II, Alice in Wonderland and Victorian London. Our local secondary schools have come to see our other productions and we have taken a some on short tours to show them the possibilities that are open to them here at the college. At the Izzard Theatre we of course want to encourage a new generation of performers which we are focused on in our curricula but we are always looking at ways to extend this. The Electric Proms in 2017 was a great way to help students from local secondary schools get experience of performing in the Izzard Theatre. The performers came and performed the pieces that they had been working on at school but in true Proms style all joined in on a couple of pieces that everyone had been learning.
We are always looking at ways to support our students to be part of the development of new work. In 2015 we managed to secure funding from the Arts Council England to commission playwright, Jon Barton, to create a play for the students in our theatre company. This became the play ‘Persona’ which examined the relationships that young people create online and how that persona conflicts and influences the off-line world. It was a unique performance opportunity for our students and provided an opportunity for local young audiences to see new writing in performance. In 2018 we have been able to build on this with the development of a new piece of writing, Jade, with playwright Sophie Swithinbank in collaboration with our theatre company and students from local secondary schools. Jade focuses on the definition of gender and follows a central character transition from male to female. The ideas were developed by the group and were used by Sophie as a basis of the one act play. We hope to extend work on Jade further during 2018/2019 to create a full length play.
The development and performance of Jade was funded by a grant from the Hastings and Rother Health Inequalities fund. This project looked a variety of ways to engage children and young people 5-18 with a variety of arts experiences. All of the work focused around transitions and we created a ‘Tempest in a Day’ experience for year 6 students, dance workshops for year 10 students, music workshops for year 4, 5 & 6 students and creating a network of teachers trained in Arts Award. It is hoped that this will establish the foundation for local children and young people to achieve the Explore, Discover, Bronze and Silver awards on their journey through primary and secondary school. This will then culminate in the achievement of Gold Arts Award at Bexhill College where they will be involved in projects with local primary and secondary schools, firmly placing the Arts at the heart of local education provision.
Looking forward we hope to continue to connect with our local community linking ourselves to artists and performers, partner organisations and new and established audiences. As always we will think big and challenge ourselves to find the most exciting opportunities. In the words of our patron we will shoot for the moon and if we miss we will still be in the stars!