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Guest Blog: Digital Theatre Plus gives young people a front row seat

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Digital Theatre offers audiences all over the world the opportunity of watching some of the best theatre that is currently being produced in the UK wherever they want and whenever they want. And it seems there is demand for a similar high quality online theatre experience from the education sector which has resulted in the company developing an education strand to its work.

Today sees the launch of the new education website - Digital Theatre Plus - which has been crafted hand-in-hand with leading theatre practitioners and in consultation with educators and students.

As well as offering the full repertoire of Digital Theatre productions, Digital Theatre Plus provides a complementary programme of filmed documentaries and interviews with the creative teams behind each production. They also specially commission detailed written information on each play and film workshops to support classroom teaching.

Fiona Lindsay is the creative producer behind the development of the resource and explains why Digital Theatre Plus plays an important role in the future of arts education and why it's already being used by over 500,000 students worldwide.

For a young person the experience of watching a live theatre production, participating in a drama workshop or reading a play aloud in class can be a daunting one. Often the thought of having to get to grips with a set text for exam purposes can be terrifying for both students and teachers - especially if access to live performance and information on current practice is difficult.

We're attempting to address this by developing an online theatre education resource that presents plays and players in a way that is relevant to teaching and learning and that realistically reflects how plays are brought to life on stage.

Our driving ambition is to break down the barriers that can prevent young people from having the best possible access to a rich cultural experience and to offer a resource that engages, excites and educates. Most importantly, we hope that the experience of watching and connecting with the productions helps students gain in confidence, be more articulate and feel able to express their thoughts and feelings without fear.

Theatre is such a powerful educational tool and it can aid learning right across the curriculum. We're working directly with teachers and educators to ensure that the development of Digital Theatre Plus meets their needs and enriches the experience they offer their students.

In essence we're able to provide a young audience with a front row seat to watch great theatre as well as invite them into the ordinarily hidden worlds of the rehearsal room and behind the scenes. Digital Theatre Plus would never seek to replace exposing young people to the experience of live theatre, but bringing performance into the classroom at the touch of a button overcomes the financial, geographical and time constraints faced by many educators.

Teachers are already beginning to tell us what a game changer this is for them and that they are using the resource is all sorts of ways. A shared comment is the connection the resource makes between the students' work and the world of professional theatre and that this positive reinforcement validates the work they're doing and the discoveries they're making.

We're excited that the education community have responded so positively to Digital Theatre Plus and the opportunity it presents to teach plays in a vibrant and stimulating way. They also value the extended skills that can be developed by students having access to inspiring ideas and people through access to great plays.

Digital Theatre Plus is giving away one subscription a week to institutions starting free trials in the next eight weeks. To explore the new Digital Theatre Plus resource and to find out more about the prize draw visit www.digitaltheatreplus.com.

- Fiona Lindsay


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