Sound and Fury

Students from Claremont School performing at the Roundhouse, London. Image by Ellie Kurtz © RSC

Sound and Fury - Shakespeare meets modern word-play 
 A Learning and Performance Network Year 3 Project
Queensbridge School, Birmingham

What is Sound and Fury?

RSC Education develops collaborative projects between our artists and teachers from our Hub schools during Year 3 of the Learning and Performance Network (LPN).

Sound and Fury was launched in 2010 at Claremont High School, North London. In summer 2011, the second version of the project took place over five intensive days with Queensbridge School, Moseley, at the MAC Arts Centre in Birmingham.

July 2011

The English Department at Queensbridge created an ensemble of 30 Year 9 students from across the academic spectrum, who might particularly benefit from the opportunity - both in social and creative terms.

Like the 2010 Sound and Fury project, the sessions explore Hamlet and were co-delivered by RSC LPN Lead Practitioner Jamie Luck and spoken-word artist Polarbear.

The majority of the students had not experienced Shakespeare live before so RSC actors Simon Trinder and Madeline Appiah worked with them on the first day to perform extracts from Hamlet.

After two days exploring Hamlet, the students began crafting poems in response to the text. Then poets Kate Tempest and Toby Thompson performed and collaborated with the students for a day, demonstrating a range of language and content.

On the final day of the intensive week, students were filmed by production company Super Mega Action Plus performing their Hamlet-inspired poetry.
Watch students performing »

To end the week, the students performed their work to an audience of students and teachers, and were formally assessed on this for their GCSE English. The academic attainment of students during these five days was significant: 97% of participants equalled or exceeded grades not expected for two years.

Ellie Clarke, Head of English at Queensbridge School, said: 'We are totally impressed by the impact of the project - the data screams out as being stunning. Considering that the GSCE assessment is worth 7.5% of their English Language grade, this is so valuable for the pupils involved.' 

September 2011

Dharmesh Patel as Hamlet in the 2010 RSC YPS Hamlet. Photo by Hugo Glendinning © RSC The RSC's Young People's Shakespeare production of Hamlet toured to Queensbridge School. The actors rehearsed with the Sound and Fury students, before sharing the stage with them in a post-show event where students and actors performed the students' poetry together.

Dharmesh Patel (right), who played Hamlet in the RSC production, said: 'Those who suggest young people have taken away a certain elegance from the English language should take a trip to one of these events.... Shakespeare invented over 2000 words. Who is to say the words used by young people today will not be in the Oxford dictionary of the future? It's truly inspiring to hear young people speak their minds in a beautifully poetic way. I was proud to share the stage with them that night.'

 

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Teaching Shakespeare