An exciting start to a new academic year for JMA performing arts

By Tommy Robinson, head of performing arts at the John Madejski Academy, Whitley.

As the new academic year starts at school, it’s always good (well, sometimes good) to look back at recent successes, be proud, then move on.

2017-18 was an amazing year for performing arts at the John Madejski Academy (JMA). We performed 37 times at 14 different venues, in front of the mayors of Reading and Düsseldorf, British MPs and an Indian minister of education!

We won choir of the year in both youth and over-all categories, and were nominated for two Reading culture awards, winning young talent of the year for under-25s. Our head of performing arts was awarded teacher of year and the school was nominated for two pride of Reading awards.

We performed in Düsseldorf for the 70th anniversary of the twinning of Reading with that town, and were invited back to a Düsseldorf school to perform. Our students were asked to read at the Reading Borough Council Christmas carol service, perform for Reading Buses and Morrisons, take the lead roles in the Reading Between the Lines (RBL) production of Romeo and Juliet and be the main performance at the Forbury Fiesta Children’s Festival.

We took to the stage at The Hexagon and performed to a sell-out audience at the Reading Fringe with a five star review (including a ‘pick of the fringe’)

We produced six full plays, including two Shakespeares, a Brecht, a Pinter and a Gogol, presented two brand new choreographed dances and sang many times around Reading for many audiences.

On two occasions we doffed very silly costumes and took to the streets for the Annual Daydream Harvest around Whitley and the Readipop festival.

We have worked with a number of charities and have become the ‘go to’ school for projects and performing arts organisations who are looking for talented and enthusiastic performers.

We produced two pantomimes for our local primary schools and ran workshops for them as well as perform for their talent shows.

We have performed at the Hexagon, Ufton Court, Forbury Gardens, the Penta Hotel, the Olympia Ballroom, two theatres in Düsseldorf, near a large cow, on a bus and in a lift at the Oracle car park! This, as well as at community centres, schools and of course here at the JMA.

In addition to this, GCSE results improved this year at the JMA, and we achieved the best marks in the country for our sixth form performing arts, with all students gaining the highest possible marks, and then taking on their first choice university places.

Already this year we have a number of performances planned. We are performing Macbeth at the Newbury Corn Exchange in November, we also have a showcase event of song and dance with a 90s feel (SPICE GIRLS!), a performance of the Greek tragedy Medea in early December, as well as a packed Christmas programme of plays and concerts.

We pride ourselves on the sheer volume of our achievements, and this just keeps getting better. We are so proud of our awards from last year, and we hope (fingers crossed) that we can repeat this success.

But mostly, here at the JMA, we are extremely proud of our students and the sheer amount of work they put in to make Whitley a more creative and exciting place to be.

The performing arts at the JMA are looking for people to join our ‘family’. If you are a student (post-16) who loves the performing arts but doesn’t know quite where to go, then we would love to hear from you. We are still accepting places for our very successful post-16 performing arts course. If you are interested please contact me (Mr Robinson) at the JMA.

Video by JMA Performing Arts via Youtube.

  1. The John Madejski Academy
  2. The JMA on the Whitley Pump
  3. Reading and Düsseldorf celebrate the 70th anniversary of friendship
  4. A midwinter night’s tale at the John Madejski Academy
  5. Children helping children concert rocks the Hex
  6. A rendering in suburbia. ‘One for the Road’ at the JMA
  7. The John Madejski Academy triumphs at the Let’s Sing choral festival
  8. A unifying performance at Rabson’s Rec
  9. GCSE success at the John Madejski Academy