Young People's Shakespeare Week

29 July 2010

'The week is very much about the artists at the heart of our company exploring Shakespeare alongside our audiences of the future'

RSC's acting ensemble will Stand up for Shakespeare in September

Young People's Shakespeare Week
8 – 11 September 2010
Stratford-upon-Avon

The final week of the Royal Shakespeare Company's 2010 summer season in Stratford-upon-Avon coincides with the week that most young people return to school after their long summer break. To mark this time in their year, and inspired by its Stand up for Shakespeare Campaign*, the RSC is opening the doors of its Courtyard Theatre for a series of performances and activity specifically for schools, young people and families.

The RSC ensemble will present eight performances of their hugely successful Young People's Shakespeare productions of The Comedy of Errors (in association with Told By an Idiot) and Hamlet from 8 to 11 September. In addition to these two productions, which will play in repertoire, every actor in the current ensemble will contribute to this very special week in a host of different projects for young people.

Plans include:

  • Street Theatre (before and after the Young People's Shakespeare performances) on the walk between the Royal Shakespeare Theatre and the Courtyard Theatre. RSC Assistant Director Michael Fentiman directs the ensemble in one performance and Justin Audibert directs members of the ensemble alongside Stratford College students in another.
  • Development of a Young People's production of The Tempest for students with Special Educational Needs in Welcombe Hills School, directed by Kelly Hunter (currently playing Hermione in The Winter's Tale and Goneril in King Lear). Actors involved include Greg Hicks (who plays the title roles in King Lear and Julius Caesar) and Sam Troughton (Romeo in Romeo and Juliet and Brutus in Julius Caesar).
  • Kathryn Hunter (Cleopatra in Antony and Cleopatra and The Fool in King Lear) runs a Master Class for local A Level Theatre Studies students from Stratford College.
  • Actors Noma Dumezweni and Tunji Kasim will be hosting the YPS week online through a series of mini-films about the week, showcasing events, interviewing participants and giving a backstage perspective (www.rsc.org.uk/education)
  • Students from Stratford College will be working alongside the RSC's Front of House staff to welcome the thousands of young people travelling to Stratford for the first time.
  • Actor Sandy Neilson to lead workshops after performances to encourage school groups to create a visual art response to RSC productions. These will be displayed in the Courtyard Theatre.
  • Pre and post-show workshops for schools and family audiences on The Comedy of Errors and Hamlet. There will be specific workshops for young people with hearing impairments.
  • The RSC will be working with Alveston Primary School in Stratford-upon-Avon, to make a film aimed at and made with young people about what the theatre-going experience is like for them and how they think their peers should behave in order to get the most out of seeing Shakespeare live.
  • Pupils from Welcombe Hills School in Stratford-upon-Avon and Withernsea High School in Yorkshire have won competitions to design posters for The Comedy of Errors and Hamlet respectively. Their designs have been made into front of house posters which will be on display all week in the theatre.

Jamie Luck, RSC Education Creative Associate leading the week said:

'The ensemble actors and assistant directors have been integrally involved in developing this very special week. Having such a rich resource of artists devising this young people's programme has been an exciting challenge and a real joy. The week will be a chance for all our actors to have a very direct dialogue with young people through a diverse mix of events. Whether actors are running workshops for primary students, devising theatre alongside students with special needs or performing alongside college students in street theatre, the week is very much about the artists at the heart of our company exploring Shakespeare alongside our audiences of the future.'

Jacqui O'Hanlon, RSC Director of Education said:

'During this very special week, children of all ages and abilities are being placed at the heart of the RSC's artistic programme. Twenty five percent of our acting company are taking a unique qualification in the teaching of Shakespeare, accredited by University of Warwick, and during YPS week they will be leading the whole ensemble in a riot of workshops, street theatre performances and productions especially created for some of our youngest theatre goers. The whole initiative brings to life our Stand up for Shakespeare manifesto and demonstrates our commitment to ensuring more young people 'Do Shakespeare on their Feet, See it Live and Start it Earlier.'


For further information please contact Nada Zakula in the RSC press office on 01789 412622 or 07831 766086 or nada.zakula@rsc.org.uk.

For regional enquires and press tickets contact: Dean Asker on 01789 412660 or dean.asker@rsc.org.uk

Notes to Editors:

Stand up for Shakespeare is the RSC's manifesto for Shakespeare in Schools which has three simple aims: To start Shakespeare earlier, see live productions and to do Shakespeare on their feet as actors do, not sitting behind a desk. Young People's Shakespeare Week is Stand up for Shakespeare in action.

25% of the RSC ensemble have graduated with, or are in the process of studying for, a Post Graduate Award in the teaching of Shakespeare (accredited by the University of Warwick). The YPS week gives these actors the chance to try out their new found skills with children of all ages and abilities.

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