Landed interest

Claire Widgery

I magine you are a Victorian landowner threatened with ruin through death duties. Would you sell some of your extensive land to the council to create a garden suburb? Would you retain the land for private use? Or would you sell part of it to the newly established charity, the National Trust?

That is the dilemma that the Young National Trust Theatre presents to its audience in their current show which also marks the Trust's centenary.

Through exploration of these choices, students are introduced to the people and the ideas that started the National Trust, touching on study units in history at key stage 2 and 3. The YNTT's actors use script and role to engage with the audience, who themselves take on the roles of involved locals such as counsellors, villagers or ramblers.

The students move around the National Trust property throughout the piece. In Sutton House, Hackney, for example, the protesting ramblers were sent to the kitchens for their meeting with Lady Exwood while the group of counsellors were entertained in the wood- panelled sitting room.

The YNTT provides a useful booklet of guidelines and information as well as a workshop for teachers because careful preparation of pupils is expected. Teachers and pupils who have done their homework are rewarded with emotional and intellectual involvement and the satisfaction of a rousing song or two.

The tour through all 16 UK regions of the National Trust continues in September. Contact Paul Russell 0171 227 4802.

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