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We’re your local theatre. Whoever you are.

Whatever your age, background and story.

We champion undiscovered working-class talent.

Because theatre can be better. Come on in.

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I want to LEARN

Our Virtual Learning Hub is the place to go to educate yourself on some of the world's most pressing issues. Easy to understand guides will help you make sense of the world we live in and our place in it.

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I want to JOIN IN

We only work when we work for you, so if you're bursting to write that play, want to join a workshop or you fancy a go at Shakespeare, explore the ways you can get involved with our family.

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I want to VISIT

We're working hard behind the scenes to make our theatre as beautiful, available and welcoming as possible. In the mean time, come take a sneak at what we've got planned.

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I want to HELP

There is always more we need to do to ensure we are helping and serving the whole of our community the best we can. If you'd like to offer your support, you're in the right place.

WELCOME TO THE
CLASS-ROOM

WELCOME TO THE
CLASS ROOM

Commentary, politics and creativity from our region’s working-class voices. Looking to contribute?

I want to learn more about...

We live in a world that's changing all the time. Sometimes it can be hard to keep up. You want to educate yourself on the issues of the day, but it can be hard to know where to start, especially when you're scared you might say the wrong thing or look silly. We want to help. We've partnered with ten amazing writers to put together this handy guide to help introduce you to some of the world's most pressing topics, with some suggestions of further things to read and watch. We hope you'll find it helpful. The whole thing is available to download as a guide here - you could print it or share it with your friends. It's completely free, but if you'd like to help us out by making a donation, please click here.

View the full article on our Virtual Learning Hub.

Can you trust the news? It seems as if, ever since Donald Trump became President, we’ve been hearing about “fake news!ˮ and being told we can’t trust the “dishonestˮ media.

To understand what’s really going on, we’ve got to go back in time. Newspapers have been around in Britain for over 400 years. Imagine: you’ve started your newspaper empire and business is booming. Your newspapers are flying off the shelves and you’re doing important work. Then, one day, across the street, you notice another news agent open. He’s a lot younger than you, his newspapers are smaller than yours, and easier to handle. Instead of important news about the King and latest tax reforms, he’s got celebrity gossip and naked women in his newspaper. And people are buying it! In fact, he seems to be doing so well that you decide to get in on the act.

LEARN MORE

View the full article on our Virtual Learning Hub.

The resurfacing of the Black Lives Matter moment, sparked by the murder of George Floyd, has resulted in drastic action. From statues being torn down to protests in almost every town, people are doing everything they can for their voice to be heard.

However, why there is such outrage may not be apparent to everybody, as racism is rarely portrayed as a problem in the UK. If you believed this to be true, you are not alone, and we have our education system to thank for the misinformation.

Despite the UK playing a substantial role in the enslavement of Black people and despite police brutality and murder still taking place in the UK and despite the British colonising African countries, there is virtually no mention of this in our curriculum. We are often taught about the triumphs of the UK and there are plenty to celebrate. But to skim over tragedies that the UK has caused leaves many of us naive to the full story. However, it’s never too late to learn.

LEARN MORE

View the full article on our Virtual Learning Hub.

LGBTQIA+ represents, not a delicious and very large sandwich (although I’d love to try that), but the spectrum of human sexuality. This is such a huge topic that it’s not surprising it gets bogged down in acronyms. The important thing to remember is that we love who we love and we can’t help it; it’s written in our genes.

As a teenager in rural Devon during the early 00s, I thought everyone felt the same way I did about Avril Lavigne, and that the butterflies I felt upon walking into Chemistry reflected my burning passion for the subject (spoiler alert: it was more to do with Miss Smith, who had long black hair and an American accent). It was staring me in the face and I still couldn’t get my head around it. I didn’t know anyone who was gay and there was very little LGBT representation in popular culture. At this time it was common to describe anything uncool as being “gay” e.g “those shoes are so gay.” It may seem small, but this kind of language reinforces the idea that gay = bad. It’s the bottom rung of a ladder that builds up to painful and dangerous discrimination.

LEARN MORE

View the full article on our Virtual Learning Hub.

We don’t need no education… Or perhaps we do…

When I was at school, there was no education about mental health. The 30-minute weekly PSHE sessions in our otherwise academic timetable grazed over discussions of bullying and harrowing videos of teenagers who had died from ecstasy overdoses (as well as scarring lists of STDs and the legendary condom-banana demonstration). Between 1993 – 2018, the number of deaths related to ecstasy use in England and Wales averaged 40 per year. Yet in 2018 alone, suicide (depression’s most drastic and tragic manifestation) accounted for 6,507 deaths in the UK. If we were to be warned about the harmfulness of recreational drug-taking, why were we taught nothing about managing the far more prevalent and insidious threat of mental illness, given its statistical likelihood to be experienced by 25% of the classroom across our lifetimes? Quite apart from instances of diagnosable “illness”, all of us have mental health at all times, which exists on a spectrum and can change with time. Being aware of this is important, given the ease with which some may label mental health, and its challenges, as something which “happens to other people.”

LEARN MORE

View the full article on our Virtual Learning Hub.

What are human rights?

Human rights are founded on the idea that everyone should be able to live a fair, free and dignified life. They ensure human beings have a degree of protection from unfair and inhumane treatment.

Human rights apply equally to all human beings, no matter who you are or where you’re from. Neither your government nor another person can take them away from you, but sometimes they can be restricted or violated.

Human rights aren’t just theoretical – they’re often protected by law. Today, we understand human rights through the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

LEARN MORE

View the full article on our Virtual Learning Hub.

What does “trans” mean?

Trans is the short form of transgender, an umbrella term to describe anyone whose gender identity is different from the one they were assigned at birth. Basically, gender – your inner identity in relation to the characteristics of masculinity and femininity – isn’t binary, it can’t be divided into two categories. There’s not just male and female, but more of a spectrum of genders, with some people feeling like men, some people feeling like women, and some people feeling like neither (and therefore feeling, literally, non-binary). Sex, on the other hand, refers to physical anatomy and is divided into male and female on the basis of reproductive function. Everyone in the UK gets “assigned” a gender at birth according to their sex – i.e. labelled “boy” if they have a penis, or “girl” if they have a vagina – and for the majority of people, this works, because their biological sex and inner gender identity lines up. These people are cisgender, or cis. Some people, however, grow up to realise that the gender they’ve been assigned doesn’t match their inner gender identity. These people are transgender.

LEARN MORE

View the full article on our Virtual Learning Hub.

Politics is all around us and has a daily impact on our lives. This page will explore some common questions and views about politics, ask how you can make a difference, and provide some useful resources to further understanding and involving yourself in the political world around you.

What Does Politics Have to do with Me?

It's easy to forget how frequently we come into contact with politics and political decisions. Some of the ways politics may affect you day-to-day include:

  • The price of VAT on your shopping.
  • Potholes on your street.
  • How much you earn.
  • New builds in your community.
  • Whether you pay for medical prescriptions.

LEARN MORE

View the full article on our Virtual Learning Hub.

View the full article on our Virtual Learning Hub.

I am autistic. Autism is a developmental disability which can impact social skills, and how you process the world. I was diagnosed when I was 3 years old, so I have been aware I am autistic for most of my life. For the first 2 years of education, I was in a Special Educational Needs Unit, and then moved to mainstream education. Being autistic means I am more prone to mental illnesses, and I struggle with anxiety and depression. I struggle if there is a lot of smells around me, and I can’t always process sounds.

When you say, “You don’t look autistic”, I know you mean it as a compliment, but it actually means you may not recognise or understand my struggles, and can’t actually support me. It also implies that being “normal” is more desirable and acceptable than being autistic.

LEARN MORE

View the full article on our Virtual Learning Hub.

Consent is at the heart of human life. We are constantly negotiating with the people around us, setting boundaries and communicating them. In this piece I want to help you to understand what consent is, how it affects us every day and to empower you to set your own boundaries, as well as respect other people’s.

I will speak about things such as sexual assault and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, so feel free to read at your own pace, take breaks, or come back to the article another day if you feel overwhelmed at all.

What is Consent?

Consent means “permission for something to happen or agreement to do something.” (Oxford Languages).

You might wonder why me; a white guy, is writing about consent. I have a lot of privilege, which allows me assert my boundaries more than many other people, particularly women and people of colour. My voice is often immediately heard and respected because of my race and gender, so I want to give context. My journey with understanding my autonomy (autonomy is one of our human rights which basically means we can make our own decisions and have agency) has been complex. I was sexually assaulted by another student in a class at drama school, and have since developed Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). 

LEARN MORE

View the full article on our Virtual Learning Hub.

Don’t die of ignorance.” The adverts said. Although I don’t remember, I wasn’t born then. At school, the word “gay” didn’t exist. Queer, fag, poof, even “Harry Hoofter,” were all banded about in the corridors and classrooms, but Section 28 still meant teachers put their fingers in their ears when it came to dealing with homophobic bullying. In all my time at high school, cut short because I couldn’t stand the abuse anymore, the only time my identity was ever acknowledged was by my art teacher, Mrs Heampstead. She gave me one piece of advice: “Don’t get AIDS. It’s horrible. It’s the worst way to die.”

I remember it from TV, though. When Mark Fowler in EastEnders left the show to go off and die like a dog when his HIV treatment “stopped working.” It would take years before I learned that’s not a thing.

On TV, in films, even in books, HIV was treated as a dark and deadly plot twist which weaves its way into characters’ lives like a modern-day morality play. “See? This is what happens when you don’t play by the rules.”

LEARN MORE

View the full article on our Virtual Learning Hub.

There is a childhood photograph that has been on my desk for some time. As I work away, I often glance over and it always makes me smile. As a lecturer of the photographic arts, there are a plethora of motivational images that I could favour but it is this one that has pride of place next to my computer. To the left of the frame, my enthusiastic mum beams to camera with open body language. To the right, my stoic dad looks on disgruntled with crossed arms. I am in the middle. As someone who identifies as “Mixed Asian,” with an Indian, Thai and Chinese background, the composition of this image mirrors the mindset of the British immigrant community - we are open to integration while maintaining a degree of cautious segregation. My first-hand engagement with multicultural students from Europe, Asian and further afield is fascinating. I find that a classroom acts as a microcosm for societal values. The perspectives of my parents are still apparent; however, several generations later they are gradually being eroded.

LEARN MORE

View the full article on our Virtual Learning Hub.

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