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'Don't put your daughter on the stage,Mrs Worthington' Or do? And your son, too?

(29 Posts)
Tigermoth Tue 14-Aug-01 10:46:01

Stage classes (minus pink tutus) for an extrovert 7 year old boy who LOVES attention. A good idea or not?

PS Anyone sent their child to 'Stage Coach' classes - the school that advertises itself as '1 hour to sing, 1 hour to act, 1 hour to dance'

Janh Tue 14-Aug-01 11:42:50

does he think it's a good idea? if so you've nothing to lose by trying it - it sounds perfect for him!

Tigermoth Tue 14-Aug-01 12:08:23

Well, yes and no, Janh. He likes the idea of performing, but he'd run a mile if I tried to enrol him at a 'girly' dance class. I do think boys of his age are sadly catered for in this area. Lots of drama workshops are for older children and teenagers. Yet - we are told - self expression and role play is a good way of encouraging good social interaction and helping children handle their emotions.

Actually a year ago I phoned parentline for suggestions on how reinforce good behavior. They recomended drama classes for the reasons I've just stated. Since I don't live in an 'arty' area like Islington I drew a blank.

I did, however, get him involved with his Scout/Cub/Beaver troop gang show. It was such a brilliant experience for him after he overcame initial stage fright. What was especailly good was that, for once, it was boys taking the lead on stage - singing, dancing and acting. So many of the dance and drama troups seen are full of girls with a token boy or two. And the choice of music worries me as well - all those sloppy chart songs with (IMO) wildly inappropriate sexual innuendos! I do object to seeing little 4 year old girls gyrating to this stuff.

What I'm looking for is a workshop type class - some dance and music but mostly drama. Mixed sex if possible, but if it's been proven that boys get too self conscious in front of girls, then a boys only class.

I used to attend lots of drama classes as a child and as an adult. I really benefitted so much from the experience. I do think some sort of fun drama improvisation and role play group would be great for boys like my son. Can I find one in S E London? NO!!!!

Winnie Tue 14-Aug-01 13:14:56

Tigermoth, I had a similar dilemma only my daughter is quite introverted and becomes quite extroverted on stage. Like you I worried about being too pushy. However, I too looked and looked and couldn't find anything that wasn't in a city thirty miles away or rather too classical dance based with a lengthy waiting list! I also looked into the possibility of art workshops for her but once again they were either for much older children or affiliated to a gallery in the aforementioned city! I did think about setting up a art workshop (as practically I have the skills for this)perhaps on Saturday mornings but lack of confidence at the time and not knowing where to start, as well as a myriad of other commitments stopped me. Do you know anyone who has the right sort of background who you could encourage to set up a drama workshop in your area? Anyway the point of all this was: I think it is an excellent idea and, if/when you find the right venue 'go for it'...

Tigermoth Tue 14-Aug-01 14:18:38

Yes, winnie, I think there's a real gap in the market. I wish I had time to organise something, but could never teach it. I havn't got the skills. Mind you, I think you'd have to be a special sort of person to teach 20 or so cheeky little boys to role play and improvise. Perhaps the challenge is too much!

Also, if your child is extrovert and attention-seeking like mine, you do wonder whether too much Luvvie-like drama will encourage him to be precocious. I just don't know.

Dixie Wed 15-Aug-01 10:17:38

Tigermoth this is going to be so vague I'm afraid but I didn't pay it much attention at the time....I drove past a 'drama' place in SIDCUP for children 5yrs & up, it looked good from the outside...I don't know where in S E London you are but I used to be from SE London and always thought Sidcup wasn't too far...

The name of the place I saw fails me now but to find it was...I came of the A20 at Queen Marys Hospital, went down the main road to sidcup, at the traffice lights went straight across and the drama place was on the left sort of opposite the DVLA building.

If I go that way again I'll get the name etc for you......

Ems Wed 15-Aug-01 12:15:40

Tigermoth, isnt there a kids theatre in Wimbledon - Polka Dot I think? Maybe they do or know of classes? If not there is the national group called Stagecoach (I think - sorry to be so vague!) they do Saturday morning classes all over the country.

I think its a good idea, try it for a term, I think children need somewhere to channel all the energy, especially seven year old boys. My son is nearly six and I would love him to do something like this, just to get football out of his head for 5 minutes!

Tigermoth Wed 15-Aug-01 15:14:31

Dixie, thanks a lot for the Sidcup tip. I'll contact the local town hall for details, so don't bother to look and risk an accident if you drive past the venue again.

Ems, Unfortuately my love for my son doesn't extend to driving him regularly from far South East to South West London, so the Polka Threatre is out. I may be depriving the world of a future Sir Laurence Olivier - but if he's got star quality, I'm confident it will shine through nearer to home.

It does bug me that there seems to be so much more on offer in the way of creative classes and venues for children in many of the richer boroughs of north, west and central London. Just look at the Time Out children's Theatre listings page and you'll see what I mean.

Also, Ems, I too want to hear from someone who has sent their child to a Stagecoach theatre school. As their slogan states " 1 hour to act, 1 hour to sing, 1 hour to dance".... or is that three hours to be precocious little luvvies? or am I being unfair?

Ems Wed 15-Aug-01 17:11:50

Sorry Tigermoth, at my apparent lack of London areas!! I got the south bit right!

Rhiannon Wed 15-Aug-01 18:56:20

Tigermoth, I think it's a brilliant idea and I looked into it for my 'stroppy six year old' but as the classes were all on Sat. mornings I didn't go any further as we tend to keep weekends for going out and 'quality time with Dad' ! But he's starting Beavers in a few weeks and can't wait. Today he got new football boots and an arsenal tracksuit and he's like a pig in the proverbial!

Tigermoth Thu 16-Aug-01 15:00:59

Rhiannon, I too like to keep weekends free of regular commitments for the same reasons as you. That's why it would be really nice if we could find a local drama class to go to on a weekday evening. I must say that the three hours of classes advertised by Stagecoach seems a little daunting. Is it three one hourly classes a week? I'm intending to look into this (and the cost, which I suspect will not be low).

Anyway as an aside, hope your son enjoys Beavers. My son likes his troup, though is less happy about the 'promising to love God' aspect of it.

I might have enrolled him with The Woodcraft Folk instead, but there wasn't a nearby troup. They are similar to Beavers, but without the God element. Some friends of mine are well into it and have just come back from their annual 10-day camping meeting with some amazing stories!!

Marina Thu 16-Aug-01 19:27:33

Tigermoth, try the New Stagers at Eltham Little Theatre. This is where I spent many happy hours doing "real" drama from aged 11 and up (they do take children from 7, I think) on Saturday mornings with an inspirational drama teacher. I know it is still going, but not with the same teacher, sadly. It led to a career in drama for me and many others - some of us are actors, others journalists and theatre administrators and one of them was JUDE LAW! We've all sort of stayed in touch, too. Is GYPT (Greenwich Young People's Theatre) in Burrage Road no longer going then? And the Old Vic or Young Vic (SE1) may have something too...
I have heard nothing about Stage Coach, good or bad.

Tigermoth Fri 17-Aug-01 08:49:07

Hi Marina, I looked into the GYPT a while back, but my son is too young to join. As soon as any activity advertises itself as 'Young Persons' it seems to mean for teenagers or those approaching that elevated state. Also, for many creative activities, 8 years seems to be the youngest age allowed. My son is usually too young for all those half term workshops at the National Theatre.

Thanks very much for the tip about the Eltham Little Theatre. It sounds exactly what we're looking for. I will contact them post haste. And fancy Jude Law attending it!

I did think about the Young Vic. Still a bit of a journey to reach it, but a possibilty for one-off events.
Thanks again!

Patsy Fri 17-Aug-01 23:39:38

Stagecoach, costs in the region of around £15.00 per Saturday. A friend of mine sends her 2 daughters so that she and her husband can rediscover life without the children!!

Tigermoth Wed 24-Oct-01 10:15:14

Quick update. Son starts a junior drama workshop next week. Girls far outnumber boys in the class, but at least there are six other boys. It took a bit of digging around to find a local one that covered his age group. Other classes elsewhere were open to 8 or 11 year olds. This is because of funding difficulties - it seems it is the younger age groups who suffer if funds are short. Teenage drama groups are far more plentiful. All the drama people I spoke to said there is a shortage of drama classes for 5 year olds upwards in our area. So if any drama coach out there in the Greenwich/Blackheath/Plumstead/Woolwich/Eltham area is reading this, here's a business opportunity.

Will let you know how ds gets on - and if drama classes have any effect on his overall behaviour.

MadMaz Mon 07-Jan-02 11:41:19

Hello ladies just stumbled on this thread while doing a search. Tigermoth have you looked at the Woolwich Tramshed lately?? They now have singing, drama, tap, ballet etc. Start from age 3 onwards.

TigerMoth1 Mon 07-Jan-02 12:09:16

Hi Madmaz! Yes, I have frequently looked at their posters in the window. They seem to have lots of interesting day long activities during the holidays. However, if I remember correctly, the dance and drama lessons are mostly round about 4 or 5.OO pm during the week, which is not a good time for us since we are at work, and our son goes to an after school club some distance away. The class we have found is at an establishment in Blackheath (if you're local, you'll know it) and it is held at the weekend - a more convieneint time for us - and the teacher is very good. My son likes it (up to a point - he isn't raving enthusiastic - would rather lol around on the sofa watching kids morning TV - but when I collect him he is full of smiles and stories.

Scanning The Mercury yesterday, I noticed an advert for a new drama/impro/dance/ singing establishment opening soon. Not another
Stage Coach, I believe. The address was not given, but I will be keeping my eyes peeled.

MadMaz Mon 07-Jan-02 17:41:34

Hmm I must have missed that in the mercury. I can vouch for the day long courses in half term and such like. DD went to a ballet day and thoroughly enjoyed it. Yes the classes during the week do tend to be 4 oclock onwards. I will get dh to pick up the current program tomorrow. If there is anything on later eg 6pm or on Sat I will post it here.
BTW I just picked up "woodcraft folk"? I was thinking about Beavers/Rainbows for when dd is six but we are not too keen on the God promise either. What is the position?

Babynick Tue 08-Jan-02 00:25:21

Hi TigerMoth1, I used to live in Blackheath... I used to go to music classes in the 'establishment' you mention (at least I expect it's the same place, been over 15 years since I was last there).

Which scout group does he go to?... not 12th Lewisham North by chance is it (I used to be in that cub scout group, when it was first formed as an offshoot of 11th Lewisham North).

>drama/impro/dance/singing

Is this the same as Musical Theatre?
Musical Theatre is actually quite good, at least Henry likes it (he's 10, been going several years now - note: it not at a 'stage coach' place).
Re the Girl/Boy mix in drama classes... Henry is one of two boys in his class.

Nick ex Blackheath - SE3, resident

TigerMoth1 Tue 08-Jan-02 13:04:28

Madmaz, thanks in advance for getting info on The Tramshed.

As for 'The Woodcraft Folk'. Here I sigh, because I have a friend who is really heavily into it as child and adult and could post paragraphs of passionate and informative stuff here. Her mother is still a leading light in the movement in her local area. I am not her, so you will have to make do with my vague answer.

The Woodcraft Folk was part of the co-operative movement. It was a left-wing and athiest/humanist answer to the right wing and patriotic/christian roots of Baden Powell's boy Scout movoment, started during? after? the First World War.

The Woodcraft Folk is still going strong. There is a group in Lewisham. Not one in Greenwich, Blackheath, Eltham or Woolwich, to my knowledge. Although formed for children, both teenagers and adults seem to be very active in the groups as well. Music, story telling, saving the planet, world peace, cooking together and camping feature heavily. The summer camps see other groups from abroad visiting. I get the impression it is all a little on the gentle, folk-singing hippy side (and there's nothing wrong with that!), but definitely not designed for the out-and-out bender-living crusty.

I would have got my son involved, but the nearest group is too far away. If he wants to go to it at a later date when he can make his own way there, possibly, he may swap over from the more traditional, church-orientated scout group that he currently attends. Up to him, really.

Babynick (ex-Blackheath) Hi! No, my son does not go to the scout groups you mention. Is 'Musical Theatre' a children's theatre company? Just wondered.

MadMaz Thu 10-Jan-02 13:03:06

Hi Tigermoth
Got the Tramshed programme - most of the stuff (from age 3 upwards) starts at 4pm during the week. The nearest stuff suitable for a 7 yo boy - all the classes below they are for age 7 to 12 yo. (I am assuming he is not a budding Billy Elliott so I have left out the numerous ballet classes) Otherwise
Jnr Tap dancing 5:40 to 6:20 Monday
Jnr Contemporary 5:30 to 6:10 Tuesday
Wed
Jnr show time 4-6pm Jnr Jazz dance 5:40 - 6:20
Jnr Tap 6:10-6:50
Thursday
Jnr Modern 6 to 6:40
Jnr Singing 5-5:40
Saturday
Jnr Showtime 11:30-1:30

BTW I also contacted the Woodcraft Folk the contact name they gave me is a chap in Blackheath though I have yet to ring him up!! I looked at what you said and on their website and it sounds really good, we are a bit of ex-hippy outlook really (we did a lot of CND rallies in the 80s....) so all that planet saving and anti war stuff is fab. Though lots of my principles went out of window after DD (eg disposable nappies).. I had been thinking about the local Beavers because the Scout HQ had also said the God promise doesn't matter when they are young as they cannot really do this properly as they are too young to make such a promise but it is a requirement if you become a Scout leader - I had a very prompt and helpful reply on this matter via a website enquiry.

Babynick Fri 11-Jan-02 23:39:15

Musical Theatre is the name of the class at a drama school. In it then children so a little bit of everything drama related... mostly singing and dancing. It's designed to be fun for children as an introduction to drama. The children put on regular small performances of the songs, dance moves, and short plays that they have learnt. Typically songs are Disney Hits, and musicals such as Joseph. - Nick.

TigerMoth1 Mon 14-Jan-02 17:25:33

Madmaz, just a quick thank you for posting that timetable. We may do a holiday class soon. Hope your enquiries regarding the Woodcraft folk are successful.


Babynick, thanks for answering my question. I did something along those lines when I was a child.

Theatretrain Fri 05-Nov-04 16:51:44

Tigermoth I am not sure yet if you have managed to find classes in Sidcup for your son?

But I run a Performing Arts School called Theatretrain, we are based at Kemnal Manor in Sevenoaks Way, Sidcup. We hold classes every Saturday from 2pm-5pm for 6-18 year olds. All pupils do an hour each of Drama, Singing & Dance. Also we put on yearly productions and have just finished a show at the Dominion Theatre in London. For more info please call 01322 385 366 or check out www.theatretrain.co.uk

tigermoth Sat 06-Nov-04 08:21:59

wow, this is an old thread. Thanks for the suggestion. In good old 2001 I found it very difficult to find local drama classes for my son but since then the numbers of drama schools have mushroomed.

Much as I'd like him to try some drama classes again, ( and he's keen, too) I am going to wait till he starts secondary school next year and take advantage of the drama facilities there. I hope there will be a drama club he can join and if he likes it, then we'll think about more classes.

The reason - he is very busy with other clubs and classes at the moment. Drama classes can wait - it won't hurt him. He likes singing and is in the church choir, and he is looking forward to having a speaking part (he's been promised a big one) in the school's christmas play.

He is still on the waiting list for The New Stagers in Eltham - must check if there's a place for him, just as a further option.

PS Theatretrain, mumsnet might want a contribution from you. I realise you are replying to my query, but companies who advertise on mumsnet usually pay a subscription -but that also means you would have your own thread as well.

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