The Guardian is reporting that Patrick Marber and James Graham, two of Britain’s most highly regarded playwrights, are calling for drama to keep its place in schools, ahead of a parliamentary debate on curriculum changes.
“We need to underline how dangerous it would be for education if you turn it into a fact-gathering exercise, with no space for children to make emotional or creative sense of their lives,” said Graham, 33, acclaimed for his 2012 play This House, and last year for The Vote, set in a polling station and televised live on general election night.
Marber, a screenwriter and comic actor, best known for his plays Dealer’s Choice, Closer and The Red Lion, said that a school’s creative subjects are an integral part of its teaching. “Personally, I gained as much ‘old school education’ from being in plays as I did from anything else. Theatre encourages imaginative empathy. It shows how people lived and how they live now, and it inspires historical and artistic research. What is more, people have fun and find themselves, as well as forming deep and lasting bonds, when they’re engaged with theatre,” he said.
MPs are to debate the impact of the introduction of the so-called EBacc on the teaching of creative subjects in schools. The EBacc is a general qualification, to be rolled out across secondary schools, that requires pupils to study a basic list of compulsory subjects, including English, maths, the sciences and a language. The two writers said any attempt to separate theatre and acting from the more conventional academic subjects was wrongheaded.
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