Unique play celebrates 170 years of Nottingham Art School

Nottingham Trent University’s school of Art and Design has celebrated its 170th birthday with a unique play in the heart of the city.

Crowds gathered at Nottingham Castle earlier this week (Tuesday, January 13) to see the production, entitled ‘All Schools Should Be Art Schools’, which was written by internationally renowned playwright Michael Eaton.

A number of professional actors were drafted in to take part in the play, while staff and students from Nottingham Trent University and New College Nottingham also took part in the production, taking up acting, assistant directing, designing and photographic roles.

Speaking about the play, writer Michael said that he wanted to portray the history of the Nottingham School of Art in all its different titles and manifestations.

“What I’ve done is taken a series of important moments and written a number of short plays around those.” He added.

The celebratory show was directed by Martin Berry, who in recent years has put together an array of musicals and plays across the country.

Director Martin Berry

Commenting on the production, Martin, pictured right, said: “The concept of the play was to explore, explain and make alive the history of the art school at what is now Nottingham Trent University. So basically, we have fitted 170 years of history into about an hour and 15 minutes.

“That’s what we set out to do, and that’s what I hoped we achieved really, we had some interesting facts, figures and personalities and it was also an entertaining piece of theatre in its own right.”

Martin said that he wanted his audience to be both entertained, and educated by the show.

“There is a lot of the history of the school that people don’t know about.” He added.

“The reaction has been really positive, and that’s from students, academics and members of the public, which has been great.”

A piece of art on show on the play set

Anne Priest, Nottingham Trent University’s Pro-vice Chancellor and the Head of the College for Art and Design, commissioned the play.

She said: “I asked Michael to write it because we were very interested in bringing the history of the school to everybody’s notice, because it’s important and we think that it has a wonderful history.

“We wanted to do it in such a way that it brought it to life. The anniversary is important, but it’s actually what you are saying about it, what you are saying about art and design education and how important it is to develop creativity, resourcefulness, flexibility and confidence.”

Around 100 people made up the show’s audience, some of them spoke exclusively to Notts TV News after the play.

We wanted to do it in such a way that it brought it to life…”

The audience react to the play after it has finished.


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