The Orange Tree Theatre today announces the relaunch of its Education & Participation Programme as OT Community. The expanded progamme includes new classes across a range of age groups, a large cross-generation community theatre project and new schools project Play On. OT Community aims to reflect what the theatre aims to build, a community, and was born as a direct response to the past 18 months which has seen an increase in isolation and decline in mental health across the country.

The programme will work with all ages - from babies to over 60s, bringing people together, building confidence and providing an opportunity to have fun, learn and create work together. The groups will meet as a large cross-generation community throughout the year at Assemblies, involving intergenerational sharing and workshops, culminating with a community festival in 2022.

Artistic Director Paul Miller says today “The OT’s commitment to young people and its local community is deeply rooted, so I am delighted that under Liam Shea, our new Community Director, it will flower in such exciting and creative ways this year. Renewing, refreshing, reconnecting: this seems the best possible way that we can respond to the events of the last year. I can’t wait to get OT Community started!”

Executive Director Hanna Streeter adds “After months of uncertainty I can’t wait for the building to be filled with the people who matter most - our community. We’re delighted for people of all ages and backgrounds to create and connect again. With more subsidised places than ever, we want to welcome anyone who’s ever thought theatre is not for them. It’s going to be joyous.”

From 20 September there will be 10 weekly classes open to all age groups, working with a director across 3 terms to devise a performance as part of a Community Festival in Summer 2022.

Directors involved in the sessions are: Jess Alade, Raseka Christie Carter, Hannah De Ville, Rio Fry, Harry Gould, Spencer Noll and Scott Le Crass.

For each of the 10 classes, the OT will provide 5 bursary places for those receiving income support or free school meals.

In addition to its long-established Youth Theatre sessions for 7–16-year-olds and Young Company for 16–18-year-olds, OT Community will be running the following new classes:

Kumquats - Parent and baby classes, which will create a space of play for parents and their babies. Using song, music and storytelling, these sessions will aim to stimulate babies’ development and promote play between parent and baby.
Fridays 9.30am-10.30am

Early Years classes - Active participatory storytelling sessions for younger children. Building confidence, speaking and discussion.
3-5yrs Thursdays 3.30PM - 4.30PM
5-7yrs Saturdays 10.15-11.15am

Adult group - These sessions are for adults 25 years upward, who have a keen interest in theatre, want to learn new skills, find out more about how the OT makes productions, make friends, and have fun. Sessions will include play readings, guest practitioners, and the chance to create original devised work. This year, the group will work towards an intergenerational project alongside the OT’s ten other community groups to create a piece of theatre to share in a Community Festival in 2022.

Play On: A Midsummer Night’s Dream
OT Community will refocus existing Shakespeare projects to strengthen links to the national curriculum and make the process collaborative and giving students ownership over the final production.

In January 2022, OT Community will launch a new production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream with in-school workshops introducing the play to students and giving them the opportunity to discuss the wider social issues of the play. Between Key Stages 1-4, students tackle issues around consent and relationships in PSHE lessons and A Midsummer Night’s Dream will form part of the stimulus to discuss these wider themes in a workshop.

In March 2022 the OT will open with daytime performances for primary and secondary schools and public performances over the Easter holidays. Performance schedule to be confirmed.

The Orange Tree Theatre
1 Clarence Street, Richmond, TW9 2SA
Box Office: 020 8940 3633