As Scotland’s largest independent theatre charity, Learning & Participation is a big part of what we do. Whether it’s joining us for a dance workshop, a pre-show talk, a tea party or a backstage tour, we encourage access to the arts for everyone so audiences of all ages, backgrounds and abilities can take part, explore and enjoy the performing arts.
With over 290 ‘Take Part’ projects a year, there are countless memorable moments happening on and off stage at our theatres every day. We round up five precious moments in the last four years that show the magic of theatre and the performing arts.
Duetting with panto star Andy Gray
When Kayleigh, aged 9, agreed to participate in our Awfey Huge Variety Show back in 2016, she did not expect she would be picked to sing a duet with panto star Andy Gray on the largest stage on Scotland!
Kayleigh, who was a pupil at one of Edinburgh’s Special Educational Needs schools, chose the song You are a Star to mark just how special she felt standing on stage at the Festival Theatre.
With over 130 participants, the Awfey Huge Variety Show brought together eleven schools for a unique performance at the Festival Theatre. The school groups, each supported by one of our engagement artists, created live performance, dance, music, puppetry, animation and short films; and delighted audiences with their energy and creativity on stage. They were all stars!
Singing with the cast of Les Misérables
The Vintage Chorus, our informal choir for older singers, were in for a surprise during the run of Les Misérables when cast member Lee Ormsby joined them during one of their weekly sessions at the Festival Theatre.
During their masterclass in musical singing, they learnt excerpts from the most famous songs from the award-winning musical, including I Dreamed a Dream, At the End of the Day and Do you Hear the People Sing. What a memorable experience!
Dinosaurs let loose in Edinburgh
Did you know dinosaurs were let loose at an Edinburgh school back in 2017? During the run of Erth’s Dinosaur Zoo, a show for children aged 6+ at the Festival Theatre, the mighty T-Rex rampaged on the Royal Mile and made its way to Preston Street Primary School for a very unique surprise.
T-Rex, who loved the attention given to him by passers-by on the streets, surprised the primary school children with a roarsome showcase of its best moves and roars. The children, who happily left their classrooms that day with a big smile on their faces, got to tickle, tease and give treats to T-Rex.
The power of music in people living with dementia
Much of the activity in our dementia friendly programme supports the importance of music to those living with dementia. One of the many services we offer in our dementia friendly Drop-in Cafés is to create a ‘Playlist for Life’, a personalised playlist of songs from that person’s youth to help evoke positive memories.
A participant, who attended the Drop-in Café with a group from the men’s dementia assessment unit at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital and who we didn’t expect would join in the conversations, was brought to life by That’s Amore, by Dean Martin. He delighted and surprised us all when he started to sing the lyrics to his favourite song!
Harvey’s first panto at the Sick Kids
Attending your first pantomime as a child is a very special occasion, and one to remember for years to come. When Harvey’s family were told they had to spend Christmas at the Sick Kids with their 1-year-old, they hoped they could still have a magical Christmas.
As part of our ‘Panto Presents’ project at the Sick Kids, we took a very special performance of Beauty and the Beast to the wards of the children’s hospital. Harvey was mesmerized all the way through the performance and Harvey’s family enjoyed an unforgettable experience.
Our yearly Panto Present performances are always complimented with drama workshops and a magical ‘Pantomime box’, which includes activities, toys, picture books and much more to let the children explore the fairy tale.
We are proud to support access to the arts for everyone. Interested in our Take Part activities? Find out how you can get involved today.