Education projects in London boroughs

30 September

RSC runs education projects and Young People's Shakespeare tour in London boroughs alongside the Roundhouse Season, 30 November - 5 February 2011

Young people from around London will participate in education projects alongside the Royal Shakespeare Company's season of eight Shakespeare plays at the Roundhouse this autumn. Radio Shakespeare and Why Shakespeare, in collaboration with the Roundhouse, will engage with schools in Waltham Forest and Camden, and Hounslow Lear and Sound and Fury with schools in Hounslow and Brent. The RSC also reprises its very successful Young People's Shakespeare (YPS) productions of The Comedy of Errors and Hamlet, which will tour to schools in Camden, Brent, Waltham Forest and Harrow in January 2011.

At the centre of the diverse projects are the three principles of the RSC's 'Stand up for Shakespeare'* manifesto – 'See it live', 'Start it earlier' and 'Do it on your feet' – which was created to give children and young people positive experiences with Shakespeare's plays in ways that excite, engage and inspire them. Schools involved in the projects from Waltham Forest, Hounslow and Brent are in three of the RSC's target London boroughs, which have been chosen as they would not usually be able to access the work of the Company.

Radio Shakespeare

The RSC is collaborating with Roundhouse Radio to work with Year 5 students from Riverley Primary School in Waltham Forest to explore the process of writing a play for radio. They will create five radio plays inspired by Shakespeare's Hamlet, which will be performed by Year 12 students from Camden School for Girls, directed by RSC director Rebecca Gould.

On 20 October the young writers will have the opportunity to workshop their plays at the Roundhouse with the Year 12 actors, to give feedback and direction for their plays, following the process of professional playwrights who work with the RSC. The plays will then be performed and recorded, produced by BBC Radio producer Kevin Leach.

The plays will be broadcast on Roundhouse Radio, the Roundhouse's youth-led radio station,, on Sunday 7 November at 12pm and then available to listen back and download as podcasts. Both groups of students will see a performance of the YPS Hamlet at the Roundhouse. The RSC will also launch a resource pack about making a play for radio in the classroom later this autumn.

Bea Hankey, Roundhouse Broadcast & New Media Programme Co-ordinator said, 'We're really excited to be working with the RSC on Radio Shakespeare. Young people are at the heart of everything we do at the Roundhouse, and this project demonstrates the potential for using innovative new media to engage young people in radio and drama.'

Why Shakespeare?

In collaboration with the Roundhouse Youth Strategy and Performing Arts team, the RSC is working with three groups of Year 9 and 10 students (aged between 13-15) from Camden in weekly sessions throughout September to December to explore how, and why, Shakespeare is taught in schools today.

The young people from One One Five Behaviour Support Service, South Camden Community School and Haverstock School will work with RSC and Roundhouse artists to engage practically with Shakespeare's themes, characters and pieces of text to consider how his plays are still relevant to us today.

They will also see a YPS performance as part of the project, which will culminate in a day long seminar on 26 January 2011, 10am – 3pm, in the Roundhouse Studio Theatre where the young people will share their work through a mixture of live performance and debate.

RSC Project Manager Sonia Hyams said, 'We are delighted to be working in partnership with the Roundhouse on the 'Why Shakespeare?' project to give young people ownership of the playwright by unlocking the power of his language and exploring the contemporary relevance of his work. Over 400 years after his death, Shakespeare is the only compulsory playwright on the national curriculum and we are looking forward to giving secondary school students the chance to debate the reasons why this might be.'

Hounslow Lear

RSC actress Kelly Hunter is working with a group of young people with a range of behaviour and learning difficulties at Isleworth and Sion School to explore King Lear. The young people will form an acting company and devise a piece of theatre as a response to Shakespeare's play, which they will perform at their school to a young audience from local primary schools in Hounslow on 11 November. The project will culminate with a performance in the Roundhouse Studio Theatre on 26 January 2011 as part of the Why Shakespeare? event.

They will also have the opportunity to see a performance of King Lear. The project is part of the RSC's commitment to create inclusive programmes of work suitable for the full range of abilities, including pupils with specific needs.

Part of the 2009-11 ensemble, Kelly Hunter plays Goneril in King Lear and Hermione in The Winter's Tale this season. Whilst in the ensemble Kelly has run projects with young people with special needs, behaviour and learning difficulties.

Sound and Fury

The RSC will deliver an eight week project beginning in November with contemporary spoken-word and hip-hop artists, working with 120 students at Claremont High School in Brent. Devised by Jamie Luck, RSC Education Creative Associate, and Cicely Berry, RSC Director of Voice, the project will engage young people in Shakespeare by exploring the links between modern lyricists and Shakespeare's verse to help them make their connections with the playwright.

Groups of students from Claremont will travel to Stratford-upon-Avon to see the spoken-word artists perform their response to Shakespeare's work at Sound and Fury on 8 December at the Swan Theatre, part of the Royal Shakespeare and Swan Theatres reopening programme. Polarbear, acclaimed spoken-word artist and wordsmith, is lead artist on the project and will direct five artists new to the RSC in the performance at the Swan Theatre.

Using these performances as inspiration, students will then work with the Sound and Fury artists to create their own responses to Shakespeare, which they will perform in the Roundhouse foyer prior to the matinee performance of YPS Hamlet on Wednesday 26 January 2011.

Jamie Luck said, 'In essence, Sound and Fury is about the RSC collaborating with a diverse group of leading UK lyricists on a shared mission to empower a love of words in students. Our tools for doing this are the words of Shakespeare, and the thoughts and talents of acclaimed contemporary spoken word artists; and the exciting part for Cicely and I is how we use these tools to foster a love of language that enables young people to be as confident with Shakespeare as they may be with more contemporary forms.'

Young People's Shakespeare Tour

The Young People's Shakespeare (YPS) productions of The Comedy of Errors and Hamlet will play at the Roundhouse as part of the 2010-11 Season and tour to schools in Camden, Brent, Waltham Forest and Hounslow (RSC target boroughs) in January 2011.

West Lodge First and Middle School is also part of the RSC's Learning Performance Network* (LPN), a national network established to impact positively on the teaching of Shakespeare through long term partnerships. The 'See it Live' principle behind 'Stand up for Shakespeare' is brought to life with these accessible, high energy and hugely popular productions.

The tour follows the success of The Comedy of Errors tour to schools in the Midlands and Newcastle-upon-Tyne in 2009 and performances of Hamlet in London schools at the beginning of 2010. Both productions played as part of the RSC's repertoire in The Courtyard Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon in September 2010. The productions also play in the newly reopened Royal Shakespeare Theatre and Swan Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon from 24 February – 2 April 2011.

The Comedy of Errors

Thursday 6 January Fitzjohn Primary School (with Christchurch Primary School), 86a Fitzjohns Avenue, Hampstead, NW3 6NP

Friday 7 January Mount Stewart Primary School, Mount Stewart Avenue, Kenton, Middlesex, HA3 0JX

Monday 10 January Gwyn Jones Primary School (with Dawlish Primary School), Hainault Road, Leytonstone, E11 1EU

Tuesday 11 January Stoneydown Park Primary, Pretoria Avenue, Walthamstow, E17 6JY


Wednesday 19 January West Lodge First and Middle School, West End Lane, Pinner, Middlesex, HA5 1AF

Thursday 20 January Hillyfield School, 101 Higham Hill Road, Waltham Forest, E17 6ED

Friday 21 and Friday 28 January Highams Park School, Handsworth Avenue, Highams Park, E4 9PJ

At the Roundhouse

The Comedy of Errors will be performed on Tuesday 21 December (1.15pm) and Tuesday 1 February (1.15pm) and Hamlet on Saturday 18 December (10.30am) and Wednesday 26 January (1.15pm).

Media visits to see YPS performances at London schools can be pre-arranged by contacting Alex Turner in the Press Office.

Notes to Editors:

  • *“Stand up for Shakespeare” is the RSC's manifesto for Shakespeare in schools. The RSC created the manifesto that children and young people can experience Shakespeare's plays in ways that excite, engage and inspire them. The RSC believes that young people get the most out of Shakespeare when they: “Do it on their feet” – explore the plays practically as actors do, “See it live” – participate as members of a live audience, and “Start it earlier” – work on the plays from a younger age.
  • *The RSC's Learning and Performance Network (LPN) was established in 2006 with a recruitment of state schools from around the country into a three year partnership with the RSC. 53 hub schools, primary and secondary, are involved in the partnership, each becoming a leading school in the teaching of Shakespeare in their region. These co-ordinating schools work with a cluster of other schools in their area, giving students opportunities to explore Shakespeare's work through performance. In creating the LPN the RSC has realised a longstanding ambition to develop an infrastructure which facilitates a deep and sustainable engagement with our work for both teachers and students.
  • Roundhouse Radio is an independent Internet youth-led radio station that broadcasts 24-7 from the Roundhouse. Young people who have progressed through the creative programme at the Roundhouse manage the station in a volunteer capacity and have full editorial control over all content created.
  • The Roundhouse Season runs from 30 November 2010 – 5 February 2011. Tickets can be booked at the Roundhouse Box Office; either in person at Roundhouse Box Office, Roundhouse, Chalk Farm Road, London NW1 8EH, by phone 0844 482 8008 or online
  • Images for Sound and Fury, YPS The Comedy of Errors and Hamlet are available from the RSC Press Office on request.
  • The RSC Ensemble is generously supported by THE GATSBY CHARITABLE FOUNDATION and THE KOVNER FOUNDATION
  • The Learning & Performance Network is generously supported by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation
  • Young People's Shakespeare is generously supported by RSC Friends

For further information or interviews please contact:

Alex Turner, London Press & Marketing Assistant
0207 845 0513 (office); 07867 802489 (mobile)

Issued 30 September 2010

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Teaching Shakespeare