Enter stage right

27th October 2000 at 01:00
Many groups of young people come to the National, and for some it is their first experience of live theatre. To support such visits, the National produces a short guide. It is always helpful when a teacher takes time in advance of the visit to anticipate how their students can be best supported to enjoy the experience.

Ask the theatre if they can provide information about the play you are going to see. The National can supply programmes in advance, and our education department prepares packs on many of the shows in the repertoire (available from our website www.nt-online.orgeducation or in hard copy).

A backstage tour beforehand can also illuminate the theatre experience and anticipate "how do they do that?" questions.

On the practical front, arriving in good time sounds obvious but makes a big difference to the quality of a visit. Foyers can become crowded, so teachers should distribute tickets before arriving at the theatre.

To avid blocking aisles, we encourage visitors to deposit bags in the free cloakroom.

Take your seats in plenty of time. For every 10 students there should be at least one teacher, all sitting among the students and with one near the aisle. Check beforehand whether there is an interval and let the students know.

Some young people may assume that a visit to the theatre is similar to the cinema - it's not.

Theatre is a live experience, and while actors thrive on audience reaction, needless talking and movements are distracting, both for the cast and other members of the audience.

Teachers are responsible for the behaviour of their group throughout their visit, and we are always grateful when they take immediate action if required.

Finally, do ask the house manager or ushers for any help you need when at the theatre.

Ros Hayes is senior house manager at the Royal National Theatre. Education department, Tel: 020 7452 3388

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