How Half Moon Theatre is helping pupils 'bounce back' from Covid

Half Moon's Career in Theatre programme returns after lockdown 

Half Moon's Career in Theatre programme returns after lockdown - Credit: Half Moon

A programme helping youngsters thinking of a career in the world of theatre when they leave school is being used in the East End to help them “bounce back from the pandemic”. 

The educational Careers in Theatre programme has been up and running for some 20 years at Stepney’s Half Moon Theatre, but has had to go online during the months of lockdown. 

Now the theatre is opening up to the public again after restrictions have been lifted. 

Learning acting skills at Stepney's Half Moon theatre

Getting the balance right... learning acting skills at Stepney's Half Moon Theatre - Credit: Half Moon

Tower Hamlets mayor John Biggs looked in at the end of the five-day programme on Friday, May 28, along with London Assembly's Unmesh Desai, to see how 25 GCSE drama pupils from Stepney All Saints School were learning about creative performance and backstage technology. 

He welcomed the Half Moon being able to reopen its doors after months of lockdown to provide youngsters with opportunities for learning theatre craft. 

“We’re lucky to have institutions like this that play a part in the recovery from Covid-19,” he said. “Such initiatives are vital to support young people to bounce back from the pandemic and to boost their confidence while teaching them new skills.” 

Students in the programme are given responsibility for all aspects of creating a production in one day, working in small groups with professionals. This includes lighting, set design and stage management as well as acting itself. 

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The groups come together at the end of the day to perform a contemporary play on stage.   

Half Moon’s director Chris Elwell said: “This programme gives them an insight to the theatre and improves their confidence, communication and decision-making, which helps their employability when they leave school.”  

The Grade II-listed theatre in White Horse Road, off Commercial Road, is being used to “share in the importance of drama in education” with the programme that is supported by Tower Hamlets Arts and Music Education Service (THAMES), the Coln Trust and Hadley Property Group.

It has helped more than 5,700 pupils over the years and is currently working with four schools, Bishop Challoner Catholic Federation in Stepney, Central Foundation Girls’ in Bow, St Paul’s Way Trust in Bow Common and Stepney All Saints.