Alan Bennett’s 'The Habit of Art' and Lee Hall’s 'The Pitmen Painters'

Ref: C2420839

Lee Hall in plays such as 'Billy Elliot' and here in 'The Pitmen Painters' explores characters and issues from particular working environments. 'The Pitmen Painters' has a particular link to Adult Education classes and the WEA especially, because the group of titular artists formed from a WEA class of the Ashington branch in the 1920s. 'A Habit of Art' by hugely popular writer Alan Bennett movingly and intellectually explores ideas about creating art through a focus on W.H. Auden and Benjamin Britten. We will study these two plays and draws links and contrasts between them. Through readings and discussions we shall consider how both work theatrically on stage. There will be class discussions, reading aloud and workshopping of key scenes. All welcome with an enthusiasm for theatre.

Course aim

The two plays will be read aloud, and discussed. We shall explore the theatrical themes and devices that Lee Hall and Alan Bennett use.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • No skills or experience needed

By the end of the course I should be able to:

  • 1 - demonstrate increased skill and confidence in reading aloud.
  • 2 - think theatrically in approaching a text.
  • 3 - appreciate the dramatic literature in its context.
  • 4 - develop an understanding of basic theatrical techniques.(e.g. rehearsal methods, directing, designing, acting, playwriting etc.)
  • 5 - express my thoughts and reactions to a text and discuss these with others.

How will I be taught?

  • The WEA tutor will use a range of different teaching and learning methods and encourage you and the group to be actively involved in your learning
  • Scenes from plays will be read, workshopped and discussed.

What kind of feedback can I expect?

  • A range of informal activities will be used by the tutor to see what you are learning which may include quizzes, question and answer, small projects and discussion
  • You will have opportunities to discuss your progress with your tutor
  • You will be encouraged to share your work with the group and discuss your learning
  • You will be encouraged to consider other students work and give your opinions and suggestions

What else do I need to know?

  • It will be desirable for you to obtain texts of the plays to be studied but please wait until it is certain that the course is going to run, so that you don't buy the books unnecessarily. Any edition of either play is acceptable and you might find the texts in libraries or second hand bookshops.

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • You don't have to do any pre-reading but you can if you want to, and it will probably turn out to be useful.

What can I do next?

Download full course information sheet

Alan Bennett’s 'The Habit of Art' and Lee Hall’s 'The Pitmen Painters'


This course is funded by the Greater London Combined Authority but is also open to residents of other areas.

As a registered charity, and to meet our funders’ requirements, we need to check a few things with you before you book. Please could we ask that you check the list below to ensure you meet our basic criteria:

  • You are paying the standard fee (with a credit or debit card) or you are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • You have a valid email address so that you can receive confirmation of your booking
  • You have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • You are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2019
  • You have read and accept our standard terms and conditions

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