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Go backstage with Open Rehearsal

First Published 3 September 2008, Last Updated 4 September 2008

For one weekend in September, theatres across London are opening their doors to the public to take them beyond the stage and behind the scenes in a host of events due to take place from 26-28 September.

From seeing what goes on backstage at the National Theatre, to singing workshops at the BBC and street theatre with the Bureau of Silly Ideas company, there is something taking place to interest all family members.

At the launch of Open Rehearsal, the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said of the scheme “This special weekend offers a myriad of opportunities for Londoners and visitors to gain unique insights and access to the capital’s cultural and creative organisations. Whether you're interested in theatre, music, dance, heritage, visual arts, and film, want to actively participate in an event, or simply watch some great artists rehearse, there will be something to interest you.”

Theatre highlights of the weekend include open rehearsals at the Royal Opera House, where for the first time ever The Royal Ballet, The Royal Opera and the theatre’s orchestra are offering the chance for members of the public to attend a rehearsal. There will also be a limited number of backstage tours offered and the chance to speak to artists and craftspeople who work at the famous Covent Garden venue. Tony Hall, Chief Executive of the Royal Opera House said “Open Rehearsal's aim to provide unique opportunities for audiences to go behind the scenes, chimes perfectly with our commitment to providing many different ways of introducing people to the Royal Opera House, opera and ballet."

The National Theatre is offering a peak behind the scenes with several events including the opportunity to see the stage reset in the Olivier theatre after a War Horse matinee in preparation for the evening’s performance. They are also offering the chance to see the Olivier drum revolve in all its glory. This four-story device means the whole stage can revolve. For budding actors the Cottesloe is hosting a voice and dialect/accent workshop where participants can learn new skills and techniques from staff who work directly with actors at the venue. Nick Starr, Executive Director of the theatre, said that Open Rehearsal was “…a great opportunity for audiences to discover more about the backstage world and some of the processes that go into creating performances like War Horse."

There are also a number of specially organised family events, including the Merce Cunningham Dance Programme’s dance workshop. Taking place in the Barbican Pit, participants will play with dice-like “move cubes” to create short dances in the company’s unique style.

For more information on the dozens of events taking place over the weekend and to book tickets, see



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