Pioneers of Theatre in Education Return to Where It All Began

Posted on 21 October 2015

To mark 50 years of pioneering childrens’ theatre in Coventry, this week saw the Belgrade opened its doors TiE alumni from the last 50 years to share their memories of the history of Theatre in Education at an exclusive drinks and buffet reception hosted by The Right Worshipful Lord Mayor of the City of Coventry.

The celebratory dinner and drinks reception was held to mark the opening of a major new conference debating the future of drama in schools taking place at the Belgrade Theatre from Tues 20th – Thurs 22nd Oct.

In partnership with Coventry City Council, TiE was delivered as part of a free service to schools and the young people of Coventry between 1965 and 1996. The Theatre in Education movement soon spread to theatres across the UK, and then to broader contexts across the globe, inspiring a wide range of participatory theatre with children and young people, encouraging and empowering children to investigate challenging situations for themselves.

Among the alumni in attendance at the event were the original founders of the 1965 TiE pilot programme, Gordon Vallins, Jessica Hill, Ann Lister and Dickon Reed. The first TiE programme began in September 1965 with a tour of an infant level piece, The Balloon Man and the Runaway Balloons, a primary level piece called The Secret Life of the Stone and a secondary level piece called The High Girders – each of which explored the theme of responsibility. By 1966, the TiE Company had been established as a permanent company and had been granted £12,000 of ring fenced funding on an annual basis by Coventry City Council.

Building on the strong foundations of Theatre in Education, the three day conference will see policy makers, teachers, young people and theatre educators from across the sector come together to discuss the vital role of drama and theatre in schools and the marginalisation of the arts in the national curriculum. The conference will explore a wide range of participatory practices that have emerged over the last 50 years, and ask pertinent questions about what the future holds for drama, theatre and learning, particularly in the lives of children and young people.

You can view a selection of photo highlights from the reception by clicking on the gallery icon to your right.