Let's Play with the National Theatre

Published on: 
25 Apr 2018

Our Artsmark Partners, the National Theatre, talk to us about their offer for Artsmark schools focussing on their newly launched initiative Let’s Play – a programme that supports primary schools to create outstanding theatre and embed drama across the curriculum.

‘Taking part in Let’s Play made me feel very happy. Proud of myself as well and inspired to do more stuff like this.  I feel more creative.’– Pupil, Aboyne Lodge Primary School, Hertfordshire

At the National Theatre, we believe that all children, wherever they are in the UK, should have the chance to see, make and explore theatre as a core part of their education. We believe that every day should provide the chance for children to feel proud and inspired.

Our first national programme for primary schools, Let's Play evolved out of extensive research that revealed the school play to be a key celebration of drama and theatre for almost every primary in the country.  We wanted to harness this focal point in the school calendar and support schools to extend and deepen its impact.

The NT is commissioning ten new plays for children to perform as part of Let’s Play.  Each play is enhanced by lively original songs and musical scores, and a rich suite of learning resources linking the world of the play to subjects across the curriculum.  The Let’s Play titles for this summer are A Quest for Arthur, a spirited re-telling of the legend of King Arthur, Emil and the Detectives, adapted from the well loved novel and perfect for pupils at transition stage, Megaball, an original piece exploring friendship, loyalty and teamwork, and Hercules and Phoebe, a joyous re-telling of the Greek myth.

Let’s Play costs £350 per academic year and participating schools receive:

  • A choice of scripts to perform – two per academic year
  • A director’s guide and lesson plans relating to each script
  • 2 days of CPD training for two teachers in both the autumn and summer terms
  • Access to digital resources and online support via the Let’s Play Community website

The programme is designed to leave a legacy of exciting theatre making and creative teaching and learning in each school that takes part; a legacy that can grow and evolve in line with the priorities of the school and needs of their pupils.  As such, the Continuing Professional Development underpinning the programme is a core aspect.  Teachers are provided with in-depth training led by professional theatre artists; designed to inspire and equip them with the ideas and tools they need to create extraordinary theatre with their pupils.  The face to face training and accompanying resources offer a range of practical exercises and activities teachers can use in the rehearsal room and embed across their wider classroom practice.

As an Artsmark partner we value Artsmark’s role in helping schools embed cultural education across the curriculum and effectively measuring the impact and dissemination of learning. We have mapped all our primary programmes, including Let’s Play, against the Artsmark criteria. We support schools on their Artsmark journey by developing programmes that enable schools to design and deliver a diverse, broad and balanced curriculum, offer sustained and meaningful professional development for teachers and engage children in creative and holistic learning experiences.

Mostly importantly, we create programmes and experiences designed to ignite children’s imagination, introduce them to the magic of drama and set them on the journey to a lifelong relationship with theatre.

Schools wishing to take part in Let’s Play in summer 2018 can register now to benefit from an additional term of participation free of charge.

The National Theatre also offers programmes for secondary schools, and the award-winning On Demand. In Schools video streaming service.


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Cultural education gives children and young people the opportunity to develop their creativity, both individually and collectively, and that's why our goal is for every child and young person to have the opportunity to experience the richness of the arts.

Darren Henley
Chief Executive
Arts Council England

It's vital that children have the opportunity to learn and enjoy arts and culture from an early age. It develops their creativity, inspires future careers and enriches their childhood.

Artsmark Award does brilliant work in schools and education to ensure young people access a broad and balanced curriculum that includes high-quality arts and culture.

Michael Ellis MP
Minister for Arts, Heritage and Tourism
Department of Culture, Media and Sport