New theatre company: Theatre of Debate Ltd. announces inaugural

New theatre company: Theatre of Debate Ltd. announces inaugural project
Press Release: 13 November 2014
The creation of a new theatre company, Theatre of Debate Ltd., was announced yesterday
by Nigel Townsend, former Director of Y Touring Theatre Company.
Theatre of Debate Ltd. will develop the considerable legacy of Y Touring, continuing to tour
nationally with new writing that explores complex science-based issues.
Y Touring was an operation of Central YMCA, which toured schools, theatres and community
centres nationally, exploring social and ethical dilemmas through its unique Theatre of
Debate format. After 25 years Central YCMA closed Y Touring in September 2014.
Artistic Director Nigel Townsend said: “Now more than ever, as we move towards a
population of more than 10 million and we face among many other challenges, the
challenges of climate change and the food crisis, and the threat of disease, we need to
engage our audiences in informed debate about our futures and the world we want to live in
and the role science, the arts and digital technology will have in achieving that future. That is
why we are excited at having the opportunity to keep the offer of theatre of debate open to
young people through live theatre, digital technology and cinema.”
Theatre of Debate Ltd.’s inaugural production will focus on patient and public involvement
(PPI) in medical research, with support from the Wellcome Trust, as well as a new
partnership with the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Oxford Biomedical
Research Centre (BRC), a partnership of OUH NHS Trust and the University of Oxford.
Theatre of Debate will develop this work, which will tour schools nationally, while working
towards a sustainable future with new partners in the years ahead.
Dr Sophie Petit-Zeman, Director of Patient Involvement at the NIHR Oxford BRC, who was
also Y Touring's Scientific Adviser, said “This is a hugely exciting step for Nigel and his team
and for us in Oxford. We were keen to work with Y Touring as part of engaging and involving
patients in research, but with the creation of Theatre of Debate we can now build an
enduring partnership capitalising on enthusiasms and skills across the BRC and beyond.”
Lisa Jamieson, Head of Engaging Science at the Wellcome Trust, said: “For 19 years, Y
Touring has been one of the most successful and high quality projects in the Wellcome
Trust’s Engaging Science portfolio, and is extremely popular with students and teachers, as
well as researchers, charities and the wider public engagement community. We look forward
to seeing how Nigel and his team grow, bringing their inimitable approach to tackling tricky
issues to new and varied audiences.”
For more information please contact Adele Geddes: [email protected]
The Theatre of Debate Model
Robin Mckie, writing about Y Touring's work in the Observer, said: “Works like Y Touring’s
The Gift, which raise key ethical questions without giving glib answers, are important in
preparing us for the future.”
Theatre of Debate Ltd.’s projects will tour to schools throughout the UK, with performances
designed for a whole year group (up to 200 young people). The Theatre of Debate model
consists of play, a debate and online interactive resources, with each participating school
receiving a preparatory pack in advance.
Before each performance, the facilitator introduces the audience to the subject matter, as
well as the use of an electronic voting system. The performance is followed by an informed
debate, in which the actors return in character to respond to questions, with electronic
voting to gauge audience reactions.
Following the visit, online resources are made available for students and teachers to deepen
their knowledge and learning, enabling the conversations around the subject matter to
Additional supporting comments:
Former patron and longtime supporter of Y Touring’s work, Baroness Joan Bakewell, said: “Y
Touring was an inspirational idea that seized on the eagerness of young people to know
more and offered them brilliantly conceived dramas that neither condescended nor
oversimplified. Our rigid society doesn’t allow enough space for original, talented and
energetic people to fulfil themselves. And we should all be grateful that Nigel and Y touring
have made their mark over such a long period of time. Well done to them all and here’s to
the new company, Theatre of Debate Ltd.”
Prof Martyn Thomas Vice President External Affairs Royal Academy of Engineers said: “Y
Touring’s work is very important because you tackle issues of national importance in a way
that makes serious moral questions accessible to year 10 students and engages a new
generation in decisions about their future. This is a vital activity that Theatre of debate ltd
will take forward and build on.”
Steve Cushing, International educational consultant from Bongo Llp, said: “The most vital
part of any learning is emotion. Without emotion, learning has very little effect. We all
remember the good teacher and good lesson because we had an emotional connection. No
one writes and delivers plays full of emotion better than Y Touring has done in the past. The
future is always hard to predict, but I really do hope that Theatre of Debate Ltd. is the start
of something big for this high quality work that has undoubtedly made a positive and
emotional difference to many young people's lives. For there is no better recognition or
reward in life than this: to say you have really made a difference.”
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