Getting a taste of performing arts at Sunderland Empire's hit summer school

Young people with stars in their eyes have been given an insight into the performing arts world with Sunderland Empire’s new summer school.

Led by the venue’s Creative Learning team, the week-long school proved a hit with all 40 places filled, including sponsored places for families with financial difficulties.

There was no experience necessary for the school, which was aimed at young people aged eight to 18, giving them the chance to immerse themselves in all aspects of theatre.

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Tuition sessions were held in singing, dancing and drama, as well as an introduction to a number of theatre professions including theatrical make-up artistry

Sunderland Empire theatre summer school

sessions and costume design workshops.

A backstage tour and technical workshops were also added with technical staff engaging the students in everything from behind-the-scenes Q&As to lighting workshops in which the students were taught how to operate the stage spotlights.

There was even a trip up to the fly tower, a space in the theatre only a lucky few get the opportunity to tread.

Sunderland actress Katie Brace from Hairspray led a workshop at the summer school

The week culminated in a musical number day in which the students were given the opportunity to use a number of the theatrical skills they had acquired through the week to end on a performance piece of song, dance and acting.

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Steph Durkin, creative learning producer at the Empire, said: “We are overwhelmed with the appetite we have seen for our Summer School. So many young people living in the North East have a passion for theatre and the arts, but seldom have the opportunity to spend a week in a working theatre exploring and understanding how it works.

"We wanted our participants to have the chance to see behind the curtain and explore the range of careers we have under our roof, which is why we offered workshops in theatre make-up, costume design and getting hands on with our technical equipment.

Sunderland Empire Summer Theatre School
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"We’ve also had local West End star Katie Brace deliver a Hairspray Masterclass which has been hugely popular and has also helped young people realise that so much talent is grown and nurtured here in the North East.”

Sunderland Empire Summer Theatre School
Sunderland Empire Summer Theatre School
Sunderland Empire Summer Theatre School
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Sunderland Empire Summer Theatre School