Stratford Circus hosts special performance for 4,500 pupils

Colegrave Primary School pupils with Sir Robin Wales at Stratford Circus for the Every Child a Theat

Colegrave Primary School pupils with Sir Robin Wales at Stratford Circus for the Every Child a Theatre Goer performance of Chotto Desh - Credit: Paul Boyling

The world of theatre has been revealed to thousands of primary school pupils.

During the past two weeks, 4,500 Year 6 pupils visited Stratford Circus for a special performance of Chotto Desh.

It is the third consecutive year the theatre has taken part in the Every Child a Theatre Goer initiative, and director Tania Wilmer said it has been well-received.

“I had one teacher come up to me after the first show and give me a hug,” she said.

“We have a question and answer session after every show, with the cast and directors on stage, and the children have been asking some really insightful questions.”

The performance was specially selected to appeal to the youngsters.

“It’s an autobiographical piece, about someone who’s of Bangladeshi heritage but was born in the UK and is trying to find their own identity,” said Tania.

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“Newham is a multicultural borough and the story is something a lot of the children can relate to.”

The show has been choreographed by Akram Khan, whose company was responsible for creating part of the Olympic Games opening ceremony in 2012.

He said: “I am extremely happy and touched to see Chotto Desh as part of such a meaningful initiative.

“Dance is finally being recognised as a powerful and universal language that is as crucial as spoken language.

“This is exactly how I found my own voice when I was a child, and I wish this experience could be shared with many other children.

The show has been praised by teachers who have brought their pupils along.

Habsa Zaffarullah, from Vicarage Primary School, said: “Not all children have had the chance to visit and see theatrical performances and this is a great opportunity for all of them, especially because we are a multicultural community.

“Chotto Desh can feed into many areas of learning and provide a hook for lessons.

“At Vicarage we have planned a whole unit of work based on this production and we are hopeful it will improve the writing skills through the interaction of music and dance.”

Stratford Circus’ participation in the initiative, which was set up by Newham Council, is part of the centre’s commitment to providing artistic experiences for those living in the borough.

It has proved a success, with 75 per cent of children taking part in the first year of the programme reporting they would like to visit the theatre again.