“Wherever you have a camera, we have a class” is the new school rule as York Stage School goes on screen

York Stage School principal Nik Briggs with fellow On Screen teachers Jessica Douglas (singing/musical theatre), left, Danielle Hill-Mullan (musical theatre) and Joanne Theaker (acting/musical theatre)

YORK Stage School will celebrate its second birthday from behind closed doors but with the launch of on-screen activities.

“Wherever you have a camera, we have a class,” will be the new school rule, prompted by Government strictures brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Principal Nik Briggs says: “After a brilliant two years, where we have worked with hundreds of students and seen them flourish in our classrooms, we now face the possibility of not being able to work with them under the current Government guidance for some time and the necessary social distancing and self-isolation policies that come with that.

“Consequently, we are fully committed to ensuring our students are always kept safe and well and will not be running classes while schools are closed to students.”

Cue York Stage School’s new “homework” instead. “It is with this in mind that we have been busy working on this new project, which will see us joining up with lots of our teachers’ contacts from the theatre, TV and film industry to introduce our exciting new programme, York Stage School…On Screen, over the coming weeks and months.”

Are you ready to watch, explore, react and create, asks Nik.“If so, then sign up, stop waiting in the wings…and join us on screen for a programme where we’ll be sending out weekly briefs, scripts and stimuli to children via email and through videos from both our regular teachers and special weekly industry-professional guest tutors,” he says.

Homework for when you must stay at home: York Stage School prepares to launch Stage School…On Screen

Students will have six days to watch the videos, explore the stimuli given and then react and create their own videos at home. “These will then be sent back to us at York Stage School HQ,” says Nik.

“Children will receive feedback on their creations via email and video calls from our staff; each week we will celebrate their work across our social channels with weekly industry recognition from our guest tutors.”

To take part, students will need either a mobile phone, tablet or PC with a built-in camera and microphone, plus an internet connection and an email address. “This can be either their own or a parent’s,” says Nik.

“While we will be using the York Stage School social media channels to celebrate students’ work – if parents are happy for their child’s image to be broadcast – access to these is not needed to take part in the project.” 

The first “issue” of York Stage School…On Screen is being given away free of charge. “This is in order for you to decide if this programme is something your child will enjoy and genuinely benefit from,” reasons Nik. “After the initial week, there’ll be a weekly charge of £10 to take part. To receive the first issue, please sign up by clicking Register Now on the website, yorkstageschool.com.”

Mary, Mary, very contrary: Fiona Baistow., left. and Florence Poskitt clash over who plays Mary in York Stage Musicals’ The Flint Street Nativity last Christmas

Putting on his other cap as artistic director of York Stage Musicals, Nik says: “At the moment we are very much all up in the air with regards to shows.

“We were scheduled to be performing Bugsy Malone at the Grand Opera House from April 23 to 26, but that has now been cancelled, now that theatres have been closed in response to the Coronavirus epidemic. However, we do hope for the children’s sake to remount this at a later date.”

York Stage Musicals had a trio of premieres in the pipeline too: Sondheim On Sondheim, Kinky Boots and Soho Cinders. “We had just auditioned for the UK premiere of Sondheim On Sondheim’s run at the John Cooper Studio @41 Monkgate, from May 20 to 23, but casting has had to be put on hold,” says Nik.

“This will mean the production will now have to take place at a later date, hopefully in the autumn.

“Our big September show is the York premiere of Kinky Boots at the Grand Opera House from September 10 to 19, and at the moment no changes have been made on this production’s scheduling.”

Nik is still hopeful too of bringing another alternative Christmas show to the John Cooper Studio @41 Monkgate in the wake of 2019’s gleeful production of Tim Firth’s The Flint Street Nativity.

“After that success, we’ve now secured the rights to bring George Stiles and Anthony Drewe’s Soho Cinders to the city for the first time ever,” says Nik.

“This musical romp transports the classic Cinderella story to the streets of Soho, where the action is definitely more suitable for an adult audience and the ugly sisters are more Gemma Collins than Berwick Kaler!”

Watch this space for regular updates.