Manchester Arts Educational Initiative (MAEI) brought a darkly magical adaptation of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream to the Academy Theatre over a two week period.
The MAEI have been running for over twenty years and this is the first year they have used the Co-op Academy Manchester's Theatre as a venue.
This year they have worked with six primary schools and produced one of Shakespeare's most popular plays. Whilst each school presented it's own play on a separate night, the production, direction, costumes, sound and lighting were the same - only the cast changed!
We were delighted to host (In order of performance date):
- Crab Lane Primary School
- Crumpsall Lane Primary School
- Holy Trinity C of E Primary School
- St. Mary's C of E Primary School Moston
- Claremont Primary School
- St. Mary's RC Langley
This production adapted 'The Dream' and focused on the Mechanicals and Fairies, blending the Bard's language with soundscapes and pseudo-rave music!
Proving a hit, the MAEI have already booked the Academy Theatre for next year!
S J Dance Celebrates Success
Samantha Jane and her team of teachers celebrated the achievements of their dance school as they announced and presented awards, trophies and certificates to all of the students who had recently completed their dance examinations.
As well as the awards, the students presented their dance pieces to the packed house of family and friends, many of whom had never been to the Academy Theatre before. There were and incredible variety of dances and styles, from classical ballet to more modern dance. All were enthusiastically received.
We look forward to welcoming S J dance back in the near future.
Cabinet visit to CAM
We welcomed the Rt. Hon. David Lidington CBE, MP (Mrs Theresa May's de facto Deputy Prime Minister) to the Academy Theatre. As Trust Director Frank Norris Tweeted, "[The] Focus of the visit was to highlight the great community work the Co-op, our Trust and Yes are involved in. The sun shone brightly, the students were brilliant and a great sense of pride."
The Minister was very happy with his time spent engaging with the community, staff and students and answering a variety of questions. His main message was to be resilient and keep on aiming towards your goals. He Tweeted, "Thank you for your welcome today. The optimism & ambition of your students is the best advertisement for what @CoopManchester @CoopAcademies is achieving ."
A very positive day, where once again the Co-op was recognised for the key role it plays in enriching the lives of the community it serves.
Theatre Dance Academy (TDA) presented their end of term showcase to parents and families as they cheered their children on in Showstoppers.
Formed in September 2017 by Sally and Jordan Makin, TDA 's ethos is "all about having fun whilst learning to dance."
Miss Sally said, " All the children have worked incredibly hard on the dances for today's show and I know they'll be brilliant, but they'll also show the confidence, dedication, teamwork and sense of fun that makes me so proud to be their teacher."
TDA must have enjoyed the facilities at the Academy Theatre as they've already booked in for next year. Now that's dedication!
The Rubbish Shakespeare Company entertains and educates
With a selection of badly fitting wigs and props The Rubbish Shakespeare Company rolled up to the Academy Theatre to bring two of Shakespeare's classic plays to life.
The all male cast of four brought The Tempest to life with great energy, water pistols and laughs as they shamelessly mugged to the audience whilst seamlessly weaving in and out of the original text. The Year Seven students lapped it up, particularly the kiss between Miranda and Ferdinand!
Year Nine students where treated to Macbeth and the tale of lust for power. The audience were in the middle of a chase between a Scouse Assassin and Fleance and then later became Birnam Wood!
The actors were overwhelmed with the theatre's facilities. They looked around with admiration, with one cast member saying that, "It's inspiring to work in such a space... full credit should go to the Principal (Mr Brice) for his belief in the Arts and how they can enable and develop people."
We loved having the company in and can't wait until next year to welcome them back!
Dracula descends on Theatre
Students and staff were terrified when the Prince of Darkness appeared at the Academy Theatre. With billowing cape flowing and walking through an eerie fog, Dracula manifested himself before a number of Year 9 students.
However the vampire's motives for visiting the students were for more benign than could ever be imagined! It transpired that he was at the theatre to offer an exciting opportunity to Co-op Academy Manchester students.
Dracula (a.k.a actor Peter Clifford) and Feelgood Theatre Productions director Caroline Clegg are presenting Dracula in Heaton Park Manchester this summer as part of the company's 25th Year Anniversary, and they offered the young people a series of workshops and the opportunity to join the company and take part in the open air performances this summer!
The students were delighted and during the workshops, certainly got their teeth into playing many roles! We hope this will be the first collaboration of many and we wish students and Feelgood every success in their show.
Dracula The Blood Count of Heaton Park runs from from 24th July until 11th August 2019.
Concert is "Wunderbar!"
With a wide ranging programme, Co-op Academy Students entertained an enthusiastic audience with the repertoire they will be performing on their forthcoming trip to Germany in July.
The choir, lead by trip organiser Miss Stott, sang 'A Million Dreams' from The Greatest Showman, an a capella version of 'Lean On Me' and the classic 'If You Where the Only Girl in the World'.
We where then treated to the String Group, Rock Band, Big Band, Samba Band and grand finale when a the bands accompanied the choir in a rendition of 'Hey Jude'.
Miss Stott said, "I am very proud of all our students and wish to thank them for committing to this massive project. This year promises to be bigger and better than ever! I also want to thank Ms Compson, Mr Rudden, Mr Thom and Ms Wren our peripatetic music staff from One Education Music for all their hard work in getting each element of the concert ready for tonight’s performance. Finally, I wish to thank you for your support. All monies raised tonight, will be added to the fundraising pot which enables us to engage with more students and give them the chance to travel to Germany and make music!"
We all wish these talented musicians every success when they head off to Sebnitz, near Dresden in Germany.
Hearst Publishers Visit
"Engage with positive people in positive environments" is the at the core of this publishing group and we were delighted to welcome them to the Academy Theatre where they worked with a number of girls in a publishing workshop.
The girls budgeted an advertising campaign based on positive body image for the brand Nike and presented their plan to the group.
The Hearst representatives were so impressed with the girls, they wish to return and work with these 'creative', 'well mannered', 'inspiring' students again. We also heard that one of the slogans created by the girls would be used in a campaign .
As a result of the workshop, some of the girls want have a career in advertising.
Doctor Who writer materializes in theatre!
We were pleased to welcome script writer Joy Wilkinson, a noted writer for stage, television and radio to the Academy Theatre in May. Joy held question and answer sessions with Year Sevens and Year Eight Co-op Academy Manchester Students, where she talked candidly about her life as a writer and the experience working on Doctor Who and her episode The Witchfinders. Her advice to students was to "not to take no for an answer, and don't give up!"
Joy's work includes writing episodes of Doctors, Holby and Casualty for the BBC. Her adaption Nick Nickleby, also for the BBC, of the Charles Dickens' novel Nicholas Nickleby was critically acclaimed. Joy has also adapted many Agatha Christie stories for Radio 4 and continues to write for the stage. Her current project is The Sweet Science of Bruising, a revival of her play which premiered last year at the Southwark Playhouse about Victorian women boxers!
Twinkle and Teddy's Big Day Out
babyballet packed out the Academy Theatre for their two shows as Twinkle and Teddy took the audience on a big day out! The audiences were treated to an amazing journey through various adventures, from experiencing the animals in the zoo, surfing at the beach, meeting the swans at the lake and ending at the castle in the clouds. Accompanying the popular bears were Flutterstar the Fairy, Chuck the Cowgirl and good old Grandad Jack, king of the Castle in the Clouds.
We were delighted to hear such positive feedback from the organisers and audiences as they complimented our wonderful theatre and staff. babyballet have already booked for their next show and we can't wait to have them back!
Frank Norris, the head of the Co-operative Academies Trust and Steve Brice (Principal of the Co-op Academy Manchester) were pleased to show the economist Lord Jim O’Neill (vice-chair of The Northern Powerhouse) and Henri Murison (Director at The Northern Powerhouse Partnership) around the Academy's wonderful facilities. The tour included a visit to the Academy Theatre where Mr Norris, Mr Brice and two students explained the journey of the academy and how, through our passion for the Arts, communities and education, we could hopefully influence strategy for Northern Powerhouse Partnership.
Company Chameleon creating choreography!
Another exciting start to the term as the Academy Theatre opens its doors to a professional dance company.
Company Chameleon are joining with four schools across Manchester to create a piece of dance which will be performed at One Angel Square, the headquarters of The Co-operative Group.
Although the dancers tour internationally, Company Chameleon are coming back to their roots, having been formed by two Manchester dance graduates in 2007.
Students were given a series of basic choreographic phrases and developed these into solo and group dances.
Visits from Something Good Theatre, Middleton Gymnastics Club and Manchester City Council Library Service
We warmly welcomed guests form Something Good Theatre, Middleton Gymnastics Club and Manchester City Council Library Service as they looked around the facilities and took in all the Academy Theatre had to offer.
Alison and Jodie from Manchester City Council Library Service even had a meeting on the tensile steel grid - a first for both of our visitors!
We hope that these meetings result in some positive partnerships which will further develop our community engagement strategy.
Co-op and BBC Executives at the Academy Theatre
Co-op Academy Manchester Principal, Mr Brice, showed guests around the Academy Theatre this afternoon as they saw year 11 students rehearsing and operating the state of the art lighting console. The students were working towards their final GCSE Drama examination which is at the end of April.
The Co-op and BBC Executives were impressed at what facilities the theatre has offer and we hope to see our guests back sometime soon.
The Covasettes on Tour!
The Academy Theatre welcomed The Covasettes to the stage as they performed their music to a selection of students from all years. This up and coming Manchester Pop Rock band entertained their audiences with a section of their own songs. They went on to give a talk about how they all met at university and found that music was the passion which brought them together.
Currently in the middle of their UK tour, and just having played Glasgow the previous night, this vibrant band has a style comparable to Razorlight and The Kooks as well has having an influence of some of the great Manchester bands.
The boys got the students rocking, as well as sharing some great anecdotes about how they had a wide selection of jobs as teenagers as well as how they balanced their academic studies with their music and a variety of other jobs.
They really enjoyed their time at the Academy Theatre and loved performing to our students as well as our first class facilities.
We wish them well as they certainly hit the right notes with us.
Academy Theatre on Twitter
As of today, 1st April, the Academy Theatre is LIVE on Twitter - and this is no joke! Check out our tweets @CAM_Theatre to keep up to date with news and exciting happenings in our Academy Theatre. The amount of events we present will surprise you!
Stuff by Tom Wells
The Academy Theatre welcomed CAM Theatre Company as they took to the stage to present two previews of the one act play Stuff before it goes to the Quays Theatre in the Lowry as part of the National Theatre Connections Programme in April. The cabaret style seating proved very effective as later in the the play the audience became part of the action!
Directed by Miss Donohoe, the play features a cast of the Academy's Year 11 and 10 students with the lighting and sound operation performed by a year 8 student.
The plot is as follows:
Vinny's organising a surprise birthday party for his mate, Anita. It's not going well: his choice of venue is a bit misguided, Anita's not keen on leaving the house, and everyone else has their own stuff going on. Maybe a surprise party wasn’t the best idea?
A play about trying (but not really managing) to help.
Suitable for ages 14+
If you didn't get chance to see it at the Academy Theatre, tickets can still be obtained for the Lowry performance.
We were delighted to welcome back JSTAR Academy of Performing Arts as they presented two performances featuring dance, drama, singing and a film showcase. The young participants and their teachers provided a great variety of entertainment which was lapped up by the appreciative audiences.
Feelgood Theatre Productions
With a mission to "create theatre with a definite sense of risk and adventure" the Academy Theatre was pleased to meet with Feelgood Theatre Productions and discuss how we can work together and form collaborative links to develop community relations. Feelgood Theatre Productions is a very vibrant company who have, since 1994, reached 350, 000 people through their innovative and original performances. We look forward to see what the future holds between them and the Academy Theatre.
Manchester International Festival
This February our Academy Theatre is delighted to house an international group of dancers who have come together to create and rehearse a performance for this year's Manchester International Festival. Rehearsing from 3:00pm until 11:00pm Monday until Friday and then in over the weekend too, this remarkable group is a fine example of the dedication, commitment and hard work which goes into professional theatre making.
Love was in the air when Academy music students arranged and managed a concert as part of their BTEC course. From planning the acts and booking the theatre, they also took on roles of running the Box Office, operating the sound and lights, plus compering the show itself. The variety of acts was made up of Academy staff and students and included: a duet, piano recital from The Greatest Showman and a memorable rendition of I Would do Anything for Love complete with wigs!
Visit from Shakespeare's Globe
The Academy Theatre was delighted to host visitors from Shakespeare's Globe Theatre from London. They were astounded at the theatre's specification and were very positive about building links with the Co-op Academy Manchester and using the Academy Theatre as part of their (and our) drive to engage communities with the Arts.
Chicago (High School Edition)
Murder, treachery… and all that jazz!
Hundreds of people came to watch our show, Chicago (High School Edition) for a hugely successful three date run in February 2019.
The hit Broadway musical came to the Academy Theatre, which was spectacularly transformed into a 1920s circus. Students from Years 7-10 took on roles as the merry murderesses (who walk a tightrope with the law), the lawyers and judges of the establishment (who run the show), the victims (the simple clowns caught up in the mayhem) and the chorus ensemble.
The story follows the media circus that erupts around a group of women who have murdered their husbands and lovers.
The show was by far the most ambitious production that the academy has yet seen, and made full use of our new state-of-the-art theatre, with professional lighting, a two-tier set, confetti canons and a 12-piece orchestra providing the live music.
The cast have been working hard on the show for many months, and put on four glorious performances during a busy week which also saw them perform in assemblies, undertake a gruelling rehearsal schedule and still find time for their Independent Learning Tasks!
During the months leading up to the show, Director Mr Pip tried to develop the cast and crew’s experience of a professional production, enlisting the help of Actor Anna-Jane Casey who played one of Chicago’s leading roles in London’s West End for almost 10 years. The cast were also buzzing before Christmas to receive a special video message from the current London cast, including Alexandra Burke and Duncan James from Blue!
Mr Pip said, “It’s been a delight working with the cast they’ve achieved so much. From the auditions through to the final night it has been a pleasure to see how they have all grown in confidence and have developed both their acting and stage technique. There have been some remarkable performances and I’m immensely proud of these extraordinary people and the way they leapt on-board with my directorial vision. I am also indebted to the staff of CAM who pulled together and supported me, whether it was providing food for the team, opening / closing the building, being chaperones, helping with make-up and costumes, or taking warm-ups. They were great. As well as their other (main) roles in the production, Mr Brice, Mr Stannard and Mr Montgomery have spent many late nights and early mornings working on the set and lights with me seven days a week! This has been inspiring… now the show’s over I hope their families recognise these strangers!”
Cinderella - a staff pantomime
For two special performances in January 2018, academy staff swapped boards for bloomers and writing for wigs, to put on a special production of Cinderella.
Our vibrant Panto brought together a fairytale princess, a charming prince, two ugly sisters and the servant Buttons (with his mate Cadbury) for this classic rags to riches story. Tickets were only £2.50 for students, but our sell-out performances raised around £1000 which will go to support a school trip for our choir and musicians, who will be travelling to Germany later in the year.
One Education Music's Christmas Concert
A wonderful mix of music was heard as One Education Music (Blackley Music Centre) presented their end of term music showcase. All the tutors and classes came together to perform everything from pop to jazz and classical to festive songs. It was a delight to see so many ages represented on stage from primary school children to students who had graduated college.
There was a real community festive feel to the evening as the audience was invited to sing Christmas Carols along with the players.
We look forward to their next concert in the theatre.
One Education Music runs regular music classes at the Co-op Academy Manchester every Thursday from 3:45pm until 8:00pm - check their website if you're interested in learning to play an instrument.
On Monday 10 December the Academy Theatre welcomed parents, carers and the general public to enjoy a festive concert, showcasing our talented singers and musicians.
The event featured the Rock Band, Big Band and String Orchestra performing seasonal classics, and a selection of songs from the Academy Choir.
In addition, some talented soloists wowed the crowds. Prince (Year 11) sang and played piano, and Kian (Year 10) sang Mr Cellophane from our upcoming musical Chicago (High School Edition). The merry murderesses of Chicago also gave a preview from the show, before the audience were invited to sing along to some Christmas carols.
First external hires as local dance groups book our theatre
Our first external hire welcomed Prima Ballerinas School of Dance to our theatre. The young dancers certainly enjoyed themselves as they entertained their audience with a variety of dances from Baby Shark to Lollipop to great applause.
The following week JSTAR Academy of Performing Arts presented their dance showcase and acted, danced and sang away with gusto in the intriguingly titled Happy Never After, which incorporated classic fairy tale characters in a new and original story.
We certainly enjoyed hosting these two young dance companies and hope to welcome both groups back soon as we develop our links with the local community.
As part of our ongoing 'mission' to use Arts engagement within the community, three of the Co-op Academy Manchester's Year Seven students performed an original piece entitled the Musical Mission with three local primary schools: Charlestown Primary School, Crosslee Community Primary School and Moston Lane Community Primary School. Featuring an incredibly diverse range of music and dance the piece had its premier at the Academy Theatre.
"We're always looking for ways to use the Arts to bring people together," said Theatre Manager, Philip Hindle. "This project has seen four different communities coming together to create one performance. It really has been a pleasure to see how the students' confidence has grown throughout the process and see their enjoyment as they worked worked with each other."
Academy students stage a dramatic production to commemorate Armistice Day
On Monday 12 November, students from all Year Groups staged a powerful performance to commemorate 100 years since the end of the First World War.
The whole community was invited to watch the show which followed a regiment of soldiers from their enrolment in the army, to their experience of the Battle of the Somme. Through poetry, song, acting and physical theatre, the students evoked the emotional journey faced by soldiers and those they left behind at home.
Ticket sales for the show, which took place in the academy’s brand new professional theatre, raised hundreds of pounds for the Poppy Appeal. Dave Fells, who attended on behalf of the Royal British Legion said, “I just had to write to tell you how much I enjoyed the performance last night. The students did so well portraying such an important topic. I was very moved and found it quite emotional.”
Head of Drama Emma Lees explained, “With Lest We Forget we wanted to commemorate the sacrifices made during The Great War not just by the soldiers who died or returned changed but the people left at home. This was a project designed to give the pupils the opportunity to share their own family’s story be it through the poppies on display from the Art department or through their storytelling on stage through song or acting. It has been a true and humbling experience putting this performance together and I am immensely proud of what we have achieved.”
James Llewellyn Burke, a Year 11 student who gave a commanding performance of an officer urging men to enlist as soldiers said, “It was very important for us to commemorate such a horrible tragedy. We wanted to put on a performance that was not only heart-wrenching but respectful too.”
The performance complemented the other ways in which high school students have been respecting those who gave their lives in war. This has included special assemblies, observing a two-minute silence, and an art display made up of hundreds of poppies created by students.
Proving the versatility of Academy Theatre, we hosted a Careers Fair which saw the raked seating pushes back and stalls set around the the theatre. There were a rich variety of career pathways on offer, from various colleges and apprenticeships, to the armed services and the Arts. Building on from previous meetings we were delighted to welcome back a representative from the Contact Theatre and well as make new links with ALRA North.
Forging links with creative industry professionals
The Academy Theatre hosted a number of meetings this month in an effort to develop relationships with industry professionals. We were please that both the Contact Theatre and Royal Exchange Theatre were keen to engage with us and were very impressed with our new theatre. The Contact Theatre focuses on youth leadership and the Royal Exchange Theatre family and community projects and developing opportunities for young people.
We were also delighted to host the Association of British Theatre Technicians (ABTT) and a representative from the Theatre Project, who were very impressed with our facilities and the high specification of our technical equipment. One literal high point was a tour of our tensile steel grid which allows riggers to walk out across a steel mesh to access our lighting rig.
All meetings were very productive and a very positive networking experience for all parties.
Gala Opening of the Academy Theatre
A special concert was held in July to mark the official opening of the Co-op Academy Manchester's new £18m extension, which has a 229 - seat Academy Theatre, climbing wall, sports pitch and fitness suite.
The concert, hosted expertly by Year 10 prefects, featured amazing performances from our Big Band, Choir and Drama students. Talented student Prince sung whilst playing piano, and Georgia and Reece joined Ms Compson for a woodwind performance.
There were also some very special performances as the Big Band was joined by extra musicians from the Blackley Music Centre Band, our choir was joined by three future students from E-ACT Blackley Academy, and past students came back to resurrect numbers from our past musical shows on our new stage.