Michael Morpurgo and RSC work with Stratford schoolchildren

25 June 2014

MICHAEL MORPURGO – AUTHOR OF 'WAR HORSE' - AND THE RSC INVITE STRATFORD SCHOOLS TO 'WALK WHERE WILL WALKED'

MICHAEL MORPURGO JOINS STRATFORD SCHOOLCHILDREN TO WATCH THEIR WORK BEING PERFORMED ON THE STAGE OF THE ROYAL SHAKESPEARE THEATRE ON THURSDAY 3 JULY AT 2PM*

Celebrated author, poet and playwright Michael Morpurgo, whose work includes the acclaimed War Horse (now an award winning play and film) has joined forces with the Royal Shakespeare Company in a unique project examining what it's like to grow up in Shakespeare's hometown and 'Walk Where Will Shakespeare Walked'.

The project reaches its culmination on Thursday 3 July at 2pm* when Stratford schoolchildren join Michael Morpurgo to watch their responses to the project in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre.

The project, led by Morpurgo and RSC Education, invites local schoolchildren to explore the creative influence of growing up in Shakespeare's hometown using the same stimulus as Shakespeare did to inspire their own creative writing skills.

Earlier this year, pupils from 13 schools in Stratford-upon-Avon joined RSC Artistic Director, Gregory Doran, on a walk around the Stratford countryside visiting local features and surroundings that feature in Shakespeare's plays.

Pupils were then given a copy of Our Jacko, a new short story written by Michael Morpurgo, which also takes its inspiration from Shakespeare's Stratford, and asked to produce 13 pieces of creative writing continuing Our Jacko's story.

The project will culminate on Thursday 3 July 2014 with a celebratory event in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. The event will open with a reading of Our Jacko, read by Michael Morpurgo himself, before actors from the RSC's current production of Henry IV integrate each of the school children's 13 new pieces of writing into the story as part of a special one-off performance.

Our Jacko tells the story of two young schools boys from Warwickshire who discover the diaries of their Great Grandfather, Jacko, a former soldier from World War 1 who grew up in Stratford-upon-Avon and worked at the Royal Shakespeare Company (then the Memorial Theatre). Jacko kept a diary of walks he took in the surrounding Warwickshire countryside 'where Will Shakespeare walked before him' and as the story unfolds, the local countryside and sites that feature in Shakespeare's plays are brought to life once again.

Jacqui O'Hanlon, director of RSC Education, added;
“We are delighted that Michael is playing such a key part in this project and that we can give young people living and growing up in Stratford-upon-Avon such an inspiring and exciting opportunity. Michael is one of this country's most engaging writers and we are sure that everyone taking part in the project will be thoroughly motivated by his involvement. We can't wait to see what sort of responses we get from the young people and the 3 July event is sure to be a real celebration of the creative inspiration we have right here on our own doorstep.”

-Ends-

For further press information please contact:
Jo Hammond, jo.hammond@rsc.org.uk, 07739 330294 (national media enquiries)
Dean Asker, dean.asker@rsc.org.uk, 01789 412660, 0778 9937759 (regional media enquiries)

Notes to editors:

*This is not a public event and tickets are not available to purchase. The time of the event is not for print/broadcast.

This project is supported by STRATFORD TOWN TRUST. Stratford Town Trust is a grant-giving charity based in Stratford-upon-Avon. Since 2001 the Trust has given around £1 million each year to local good causes, community projects and initiatives that have made Stratford a better place to live, work and study. Further information about the Trust and its grant giving can be found at www.stratfordtowntrust.co.uk

Our Jacko:
Our Jacko is part of The Great War, an anthology of fictional stories from 11 internationally acclaimed award winning authors. Each author chose an object from the First World War as the basis of their tale. The Great War is published by Walker to commemorate the centenary of the First World War on 28 July this year (£12.99). Our Jacko tells the story of two young schools boys from Warwickshire who discover the diaries of their Great Grandfather, Jacko, a former soldier from World War 1 who grew up in Stratford-upon-Avon and worked at the Royal Shakespeare Company (then the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre). Jacko kept a diary of walks he took in the surrounding Warwickshire countryside 'where Will Shakespeare walked' and as the story unfolds, the local countryside and sites that feature in Shakespeare's plays are brought to life once again.

About RSC Education:
RSC Education transforms experiences of Shakespeare for young people.

Our approach is rooted in a 130 year history of making theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon and sharing that wealth of skills and knowledge with teachers and students across the UK. We build long term relationships with school, teachers and communities across the UK – and particularly those who have the least access to Shakespeare, the RSC and cultural provision – and we know that when our approaches are adopted, student attitudes to school and learning in general, as well as to Shakespeare, improve.

The work of RSC Education itself dates back to 1948 when we held our first summer school for teachers. We were the first theatre company to introduce Shakespeare to primary age children and more recently, became the first theatre to broadcast its productions directly into schools and classrooms all over the UK. Each year we reach over 400,000 young people and work with approximately 1,100 schools.

For more information visit http://www.rsc.org.uk/education/

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