Ark Alexandra welcomes the National Theatre as part of England-wide tour

Ark Alexandra Academy was thrilled to welcome the National Theatre schools tour of Jekyll & Hyde last week (18 and 19 March). 


Students watched the reimagining of Robert Louis Stevenson's classic tale, written by Evan Placey and directed by Kirsty Housley, which merges Victorian England with the modern day. It also explores how the repression of female voices can be as prevalent today as it was in the 19th century.  


The production began its tour in Greater Manchester and visited school halls nationwide this term. More than 10,000 young people from North Devon to Sunderland have watched the production as part of this tour. 

Bringing the tour to Hastings is part of an arts project funded by the Clore Duffield Foundation to ensure arts and cultural education are a core part of the entitlement for every child in Ark's four Hastings schools: Ark Alexandra Academy, Ark Blacklands Primary Academy, Ark Castledown Primary Academy and Ark Little Ridge Primary Academy. Staff are working with experts from national, regional and local arts organisations to help them bring arts into all parts of the curriculum.  

After the show, students were buzzing with excitement and admiration for the performance. It was a wonderful experience for everyone involved and a great reminder of why the arts are so important.  Students said:   

  • "I have never seen anything like this before, and even though I didn't understand all of it, it was amazing."   

  • "The lights and sound were brilliant; I've seen musicals before, but nothing like this."   

  • "10 out of 10, I want to watch it again!"   

  • "I liked the sass and the attitude the main character had."   

Carly Springett, Drama Teacher and Leader of Year 9 at Ark Alexandra said, "We were delighted to have hosted the show, strengthening connections between our school and a national arts company. The production brought education beyond the classroom and inspired students to engage with topical issues through the arts.  

"Some of our students have never left Hastings, so it was fantastic to be able to bring a national touring show to them. The students watched in awe, and all the chatter afterwards about how amazing they found it and how they would pay to watch it again was amazing to see and hear. It showed our students why the arts are so vital to them.   

"Arts education can create a platform for children to foster a sense of community and cultural exchange. We are excited about the summer term, as students will showcase their artistic skills and talent at an arts festival, and we hope it will inspire other schools and organisations to get involved."  

Kirsty Housley, Director of Jekyll & Hyde, said, "Touring this show in 2022 was such a hugely important experience, and I am thrilled for it to be returning for a second tour. To bring work directly to young people in this way feels incredibly radical right now. During this cost-of-living crisis, many families are struggling for essentials and a trip to the theatre is sadly a luxury many can't afford. Bringing the National Theatre directly into school halls is a small way of redressing this. We can't wait to share it with pupils across the country."    

Rufus Norris, Director of the National Theatre, said, "Theatre plays an important role in sparking discussions and developing skills that go beyond the classroom. We are delighted to be bringing back the schools' touring production of Jekyll & Hyde to even more schools across the country. By visiting young people in their school halls and in their local venues we hope they will be inspired to continue exploring theatre and what their brilliant local venues have to offer."