Set The Stage: The UK’s first residential educational Performing Arts event for schools.

We are absolutely delighted to offer a brand new, exclusive, UK festival programme created specifically to support the teaching of Performing Arts at GCSE, BTEC and A level.

Our Performing Arts programme, 'Set The Stage', has been designed in consultation with current Performing Arts teachers and will focus on many of the key themes that feature in UK exam board specifications. The event will include:

  • A series of highly engaging presentations delivered by leading industry professionals, covering a range of key themes
  • A range of expert-led workshops that provide: ‘hands-on’ experience with some of the technical skills, such as stage lighting and using a sound desk, which can be more difficult to deliver in school; and the chance to work with, and learn from an actor, a choreographer and playwright.

The presentations and workshops will not only inspire and entertain your students, they will provide a wonderful boost to their confidence and, at the same time, give them extremely valuable insight into how they can pursue a career in the Arts.

Find out more about our Expert Speakers 

Find out more about Curricular Links

Why Choose Performing Arts Festival of Education 2023?

This festival is supported by both Arts Award and Gatsby Benchmarks who have checked the content across the two days and recognise where the event supports their aims and guidelines for students in the arts, so you can be assured that your students will return enriched with new skills, knowledge and ideas to support their ongoing studies.

Arts Award is delighted to be working with Study Experiences to help demonstrate the value and broad range of career opportunities in the performing arts. Real-world experiences with artists is something that Arts Award values through all our regulated qualifications, and this opportunity is a fantastic chance for young people to work with the best in the business. We hope through our free resources and support, schools attending will be able to expand their engagement and support their students to achieve a qualification in the arts.

Our Performing Arts Festival of Education 2022 can also help schools and colleges work towards the following Gatsby Benchmarks for Good Career Guidance:

  • Benchmark 4: Linking curriculum learning to careers
  • Benchmark 5: Encounters with employers and employees
  • Benchmark 7: Encounters with further & higher education


We are delighted to announce that the venue for Set The Stage will be the wonderful Mercury Theatre, Colchester. Described as ‘an artistic powerhouse in the East’, the theatre has recently undergone a £10 million refurbishment.

We have been working closely with Ryan McBryde, Creative Director of the Mercury Theatre, whose wealth of connections both in the West End and the Arts as a whole, have been keen to securing some of the fantastic speakers and workshop leaders who will be participating in this unique event.


Set The Stage will take place on 6th - 7th June 2023


As part of the festival package, groups attending this event will be booked in to bed & breakfast accommodation at a Premier Inn, Travelodge or equivalent, in the Colchester area.

Extend your trip with a day in London 

As Colchester is located so close to the city you may wish to add on an extra day to your itinerary with a visit to London to enjoy a West End show. Find out more about what you can do here - London's West End

Get in touch

Get a quick quote today, and a member of our team will be in touch to discuss your Performing Arts Festival in more detail.

Dates for 2023 coming soon, register your interest

Matthew Kelly

We are delighted that Olivier Award Winner Matthew Kelly will be opening our festival. With a career spanning over 40 years on stage and screen, covering everything from Shakespeare to Light Entertainment, Matthew will both inspire and entertain your students with insights, highlights and incredible stories of his long and illustrious career. A Q&A session will give them the ultimate opportunity to get advise from someone who has achieved so much in the Arts industry.

Find out more about Matthew Kelly 

Frantic Assembly

Internationally renowned theatre company Frantic Assembly will lead a 90 minute devising & physicality session, followed by a Q&A with the Frantic Practitioners 

Learn more about the Frantic Assembly workshop here

Anna Jordan: Acclaimed Playwright for Stage and Screen

Anna is a writer for theatre, film and TV, a theatre director and acting coach. Anna’s notable experience makes her the perfect guest to engage with your students and help develop their writing creativity. 

Click here for more information on Anna

Ellen Kane, Renowned West End Choreographer

Tony & Olivier nominated choreographer Ellen will be providing a dance & performance workshop giving your students a unique chance to learn from an experienced industry professional.

Click here to find out more about Ellen

Jessica Ronane, Casting Director for Stage and Screen

Jessica is in-house Casting Director for Matthew Warchus at the Old Vic Theatre, London. She will give your budding performers the inside track on casting for stage and screen.

Click here to find out more about Jessica

Steve Mayo, Sound Engineer

Steve has worked as a sound engineer for the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC), Young Vic, Old Vic, People Show and Royal Court, amongst others. He has also toured nationally and internationally with the RSC.

Find out more about Steve here 

Ryan McBride, Theatre Director

As the Creative Director for the Mercury Theatre, Ryan is perfectly placed to run your students through all the key roles involved in a performance right from the Ideas through to the opening nights.

Click here for more information on Ryan

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