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Students welcoming pupils from Whitburn Church of England Academy to the assembly Rooms

A team of Durham students were delighted to welcome pupils from Whitburn Church of England Academy to the Assembly Rooms ahead of their school production of The Addams Family.

The visit was conceived and organised by former pupil Charlotte Beech, who is currently studying Physics and Natural Sciences, when she found out that her old school was putting on a production of The Addams Family. It’s a show that she’d been involved with last year as a member of Durham Student Theatre.

Charlotte offered to help the school, starting with a couple of workshops and resulting in the idea of bringing them across to visit the Assembly Rooms.

How the magic works

The focus of the visit was on the backstage and technical aspects of the theatre, with a tour and demonstration followed by workshops on lighting, sound, stage management, costume and creative design to help the school pupils understand ‘how the magic works’.

Having worked on productions at school Charlotte’s own interest in theatre was re-ignited when she came to Durham. 

Opportunities that make a difference

She had been involved in school productions at Whitburn in Year 8 and Year 11 and believes they made a huge difference to her education but unfortunately a combination of limited budgets and COVID put a stop to them.

To date, Charlotte, who is a member of Van Mildert College, has been part of the production team working on Little Shop of Horrors and was also amongst the cast and crew who took the student written show, The Single Lady to the Edinburgh Fringe earlier this year.

The value of getting involved

She is very clear about the value of getting involved, “I’m so pleased that I’ve had some amazing opportunities at Durham and I can certainly say that it’s making a huge difference to my university experience.”

Her passion for supporting those who could follow in her footsteps is evident, “I’m very aware that many schools in the region just don’t have the money to throw at a big budget production so hopefully we can offer some insider knowledge that will really help. It’s so important that young people from all backgrounds have this kind of opportunity.”

Nicola Candlish, Senior Manager for Performing Arts is keen to reinforce that message, “Whatever our students love doing, or would love to have a try at, supporting and inspiring them is all part of the Durham University experience. It’s so valuable to be part of a vibrant community and it’s wonderful to see Charlotte sharing that experience with young people from the region.”

The visit was supported by Daisy Robinson, graduate intern from the volunteering team, "Volunteering is an incredibly valuable thing to do at university, as it connects students with the new community they've become a part of. Charlotte's project in particular shows how students can utilise their talents to give back to the local community in a fulfilling way."

Find out more

Learn more about the volunteering work at Durham University

Get in touch with the volunteering team

Check out what’s coming to the Assembly Rooms in the coming weeks and months