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Royal Albert Hall partners with Y Touring to engage GCSE students in science to coincide with Brain Awareness Week

18 February, 2013

As part of its ongoing commitment to education in the arts and sciences, the Royal Albert Hall is partnering with the Y Touring Theatre Company next month to stage the play Stunted Trees and Broken Bridges. The play, designed for GCSE pupils to complement the curriculum, will engage students in an informed debate about the ethical, social and legal issues arising from the development and impact of ‘novel neurotechnologies’- the use of technologies and devices that intervene in the brain to help treat diseases such as stroke, dementia, obesity and depression.

Each performance will be followed by a debate led by renowned scientists who are experts in the field of neurotechnologies. The debates will be enhanced by electronic voting technology, encouraging the students to share their opinions on the thought-provoking performance. Running from Monday 11 - Wednesday 13 March, these performances will coincide with Brain Awareness Week (BAW), a global campaign to increase public awareness of the progress and benefits of brain research.

The play revolves around a young man, who begins to experience volatile episodes after the death of his mother. With his life unraveling and facing a pending trial in court, he undergoes a brain scan. The analysis will determine if he has a brain abnormality and therefore can plead diminished responsibility in court. Exploring the profound questions of personality, identity, responsibility and liberty, the performance will demonstrate the progress made by neuroscience.

Lucy Noble, Head of Programming and Education at the Royal Albert Hall commented: “We’re delighted to be staging the latest play from Y Touring, and to be offering students the opportunity to speak with and learn from some of the leading academics in neuroscience. As part of our education programme, we’re always looking for new ways to support local schools and to offer shows such as these that complement the national curriculum and engage students in science in an innovative and interactive way.”

Sarah Cook, General Manager at Y Touring continued “Y Touring is excited to be at the Royal Albert Hall this Spring with our new Theatre of Debate production. The project began life, like all Theatre of Debate projects, with a series of workshops between scientists, young people and artists in which we shared our knowledge, our ideas and debated key issues around potential future advances in neuroscience. The Royal Albert Hall has a strong history of presenting high quality work to audiences that blend arts and science as well as music and we are proud to be part of that tradition. The rehearsal and development process has been a great journey of discovery for the cast and creative team alike: we have experimented with parcourt, soundscapes, visual art and video as well as generating some fantastic discussion and we are looking forward to sharing the play with audiences”

The Royal Albert Hall is committed to developing its education programme as parts of its extensive public benefit remit. Not just providing a venue for some of the world’s most popular artists, it is a charity dedicated to providing education and increasing access to the arts and sciences, supporting the cultural life of the country and to inspire future generations.

Stunted Trees and Broken Bridges has been developed in partnership with The Nuffield Council on Bioethics, The British Neuroscience Association, and The Association of Medical Research Charities (AMRC). It is open to teachers and home educators to bring their class and pupils. Shows will be in the Elgar Room at the Royal Albert Hall during Brain Awareness Week, 11th March – 13th March.

To book, please call the Box Office on 0845 401 5025. Schools registered with our Education department can also book online at
To register your school please download and return the registration form.


Notes to editor:
For more information on the education programmes of the Royal Albert Hall, please contact:

Hannah Hayes 020 7861 3176 / 
Nicola Hamilton 020 7861 3189 /
Sean Carrigan 020 7959 0531/ 

Debates will be led by:
Monday 11 March at 1pm
Professor Sophie Scott: Wellcome Senior Research Fellow in Basic Biomedical Science and Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience

Tuesday 12 March at 10am
Dr Ilina Singh: Reader in Bioethics & Society at Kings College

Tuesday 12 March at 1pm
Professor Steven Rose: Emeritus Professor of Neurobiology, Department of Life, Health and Chemical Sciences, Open University and Emeritus Professor, Genetics and Society, Gresham College, London.

Wednesday 13 March at 10am
Dr David T Dexter. Professor of Neuropharmacology Department of Medicine Imperial

Wednesday 13 March at 1pm
Professor Vincent Walsh: Professor of Human Brain Research, Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, University College London

Royal Albert Hall
The Royal Albert Hall is the world’s most famous stage. Its breathtaking auditorium hosts over 370 shows a year by the world’s greatest artists. The magical atmosphere combined with inspired artists creates legendary events.

Opened in 1871 as part of Prince Albert’s vision for a centre for the Arts and Sciences, the Hall is a registered charity which operates without public funding, remaining true to his founding ambitions within a modern context. Extending the brand with 200 events outside the auditorium, the Hall has broadened its appeal to younger, diverse audiences whilst still engaging its existing customers.

The Hall also offers the Elgar Room, a state-of-the-art small-scale performance space which hosts performances of classical music, jazz and world music, comedy, dance and hush, a series of gigs for just signed bands throughout the year. In the main auditorium, it offers the Albert Sessions, an initiative that encourages up and coming acts to play at the Hall by offering reduced rental fees to promoters and lower ticket prices to encourage younger audiences to visit the Hall. It also works extensively with schools, young people, disadvantaged groups and partners such as Music For Youth through its Education programme, reaching over 100,000 participants each year as part of its extensive public benefit remit. It has also been appointed by the Arts Council as one of the country’s regional music education hubs.

For more information, please visit 
Registered charity number: 254543

Y Touring
Y Touring Theatre Company is an operation of Central YMCA, the UK's leading activity for health charity and the world's first YMCA. It is an ITC/Equity registered, award winning professional theatre company, established in 1989 by Nigel Townsend. Its mission is to produce quality theatre, new media, drama workshops and educational resources that enable audiences to explore and debate difficult and sensitive health based issues. Y Touring pioneered Theatre of Debate® and continues to use this format in many of its productions.

In the past issues have included: sexuality, binge drinking, drug abuse, xenotransplantation, mental illness, the implications of brain research, eugenics, preimplantation selection, stem cell research, privacy and surveillance, genetically modified food, relationships, racism and ethics. Productions take place in a range of settings including theatres, schools and colleges and community and arts centres. Productions have also been staged in prisons, youth offenders’ centres, at science events, conferences and company training days.

Y Touring has produced 54 regional, national and international tours of plays by professional playwrights including Judith Johnson, Judy Upton, Jonathan Hall, Nicola Baldwin, Rhiannon Tise, Rachel Wagstaff and Laura FitzGerald reaching over 1.5 million young people around the country live and online.

In December 2010 Y Touring were awarded almost £1 million by the Wellcome Trust towards a £1.6 million, 5 year long project to engage young people in the effect of biomedical advances on human health. The project will be launched in mid-2011.

For more information on Y Touring please visit our websites:

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020 7959 0531

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