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Welcome to the

By Roger Butler,2014-08-13 13:59
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Welcome to the ...

    Welcome to the

    English Teaching Theatre

    archive

    The archive is located at 26 Petley Road, Hammersmith, London W6 9ST. Archivists: Ken Wilson (kenwrite@btinternet.com) and Dede

    Wilson (dedewilsonuk@yahoo.co.uk)

    See below for two extracts which go some way towards explaining what the ETT (1969-2001) was.

The archive contains the following:

    ; Original scripts of sketches, songs, games, links etc. going

    back to the mid-1970s

    ; Photographic archive, 1970s-2001

    ; Cassettes of ETT songs from all the shows, recorded in

    rehearsal

    ; Videos of shows in different countries

    ; Videos of teachers and their students putting on shows of ETT

    sketches

    ; File of press cuttings from around the world

    ; Portfolios of distinctive ETT song cards and other poster-size

    props, including show title cards

    ; Key props from classic ETT sketches

    ; Files of tour organisation correspondence 1975-2110

    ; Files of UK summer season correspondence 1970s-1990s

    ; There is also a filing cabinet of silly costumes and accessories

    in the lounge ;

    Feel free to open boxes, files etc. to view contents, but please put things back where you found them!

The Archivists ;

1) Extract from the Introduction to Further Off-Stage: More

    Sketches from the English Teaching Theatre by Doug Case

    and Ken Wilson (Heinemann, 1984):

    „The ETT is a unique kind of theatre. It began in 1969 at International House, London, when the director, John Haycraft, said to one of his teachers, Jeremy Harrison: “Why don‟t we have a theatre specially for students of English?”

     For several years, there were summer seasons in London, and since 1974 the ETT has been a permanent theatre-group. Its members are teachers, actors and musicians, who spend eight months of each year on tour, performing in schools, teacher-training colleges, universities and theatres all over the world. Every year, more than 250 performances are given, and the show is seen on stage by more than 75,000 people and on TV by many more.

     Between 1973 and 1983, the ETT performed in these countries: Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Colombia, Cyprus, Denmark, Ecuador, Egypt, France, Germany, Greece, Holland, Iceland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Norway, Peru, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Venezuela and Yugoslavia.‟

2) Extract from an article by Pat Rush in The Stage, 7.3.85

    „With their mixture of songs, sketches and “the bits in between”, as they call them, the shows presented by The English Teaching Theatre differ little in format from any other kind of revue, with success largely being measured by the loudness of the audience‟s laughter.

     In the case of the English Teaching Theatre, however, that laughter serves an unusually serious purpose. For it is, simply, the easiest way to judge whether a foreign audience has been able to follow what they have seen and heard.

     “You could do a whole tragedy and you wouldn‟t necessarily know they‟d understood a word,” says Hazel Imbert, one of the company‟s two administrators as well as a performer. “A cackle in the right place, though, and we know that they‟re with us. We don‟t lose them. That‟s very important.”

     That the audience should merely be able to follow the show without difficulty is, however, not enough. ETT‟s audiences are made up of people

    studying English as a second language, and the company‟s primary aim is to assist with those studies. Every sketch and song is governed by this ulterior motive.

     “The show aims to be comprehensible to all the audiences we play to, wherever in the world,” explains another company member, Doug Case. “But the aim isn‟t to do something that anyone can understand come what may. It‟s to do something the English of which they will understand.

     “If you set out to create a theatre group that‟s going to be understandable

    everywhere, you could do a mime show, but it wouldn‟t have any language value. What makes us slightly special, if you like, is that we not only aim to give people an enjoyable time, but also to give them a show that‟s entirely in English, but in

    English which they will find out that they can understand.”

     Graphic props and costumes may help to make the language intelligible, and they do even make use of mime from time to time. But nothing is ever allowed to shift the focus of attention away from the all-important words.

     That the company are succeeding in their pedagogic task would seem to be confirmed by their 12 increasingly successful years so far, and by a constantly full diary which includes return visits to many of the schools and other educational establishments which supply most of their work.

     So far they have travelled to no fewer than 27 countries, including Japan, Brazil, Mexico and Peru as well as all over Europe, with each year seeing some 250 performances to an annual total of more than 75,000 students. […]

     When the touring ends, early summer is then spent writing, with Doug Case and Ken Wilson (the company‟s other administrator/ performer) supplying the basic sketches. Other members of the company contribute ideas during subsequent rehearsals, and shows are adapted constantly throughout the year as audiences respond or not to the humour contained in them.

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