Learning Lines

Our Jacko's' story with Michael Morpurgo

July 18, 2014

Michael Morpurgo on the RST stageLast week, children from 13 schools in Stratford-upon-Avon, saw their creative writing bought to life on the Royal Shakespeare Theatre stage as part of an education project led by Michael Morpurgo.

Earlier this year, pupils joined our Artistic Director, Gregory Doran, on a walk around the Stratford countryside visiting local sites 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.

Last week Michael Morpurgo read 'Our Jacko' in the RST, with actors from the Henry IV company integrating each of the school children's 13 pieces of writing into the story as part of a special one-off performance.

We asked children from Bridgetown primary school to tell us about their involvement in the project.

School children in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre

Isobel and Ashwin, Year 3, Bridgetown Primary School

We have been involved in the Shakespeare project with Michael Morpurgo. When we were told about the walk we were very excited to go. The first thing we did about the project was read 'Where My Wellies Take Me'.

Then we went on the walk, we had Greg Doran as a tour guide, it was fabulous, we saw lots of characters on the side of the RSC from Shakespeare's play, A Midsummer Night's Dream. When we walked though the garden next to the RSC Greg showed us that on a lamppost you could see Bottom from A Midsummer Night's Dream.

We learnt that in Shakespeare's time a girl went to the river in Tiddington, fell in and drowned, they think she might have committed suicide. Greg thinks that Shakespeare used this idea for his play Hamlet with the girl called Ophelia, who drowns in the river.

We went to the church and learnt that in Shakespeare's time there was a place next to the church where men and women stored dead bodies. I remember when we walked by the river Avon and we saw an eel ladder (where eels shift themselves up).

A few days after the walk we did some work in school about Shakespeare's plays, it was really fun. We learnt about all those words that Shakespeare used e.g. vexed. We did different plays like Hamlet, King Lear, A Midsummer Night's Dream and Macbeth.

At first we found reading the words hard but then we got the hang of it and we enjoyed saying new words. This project made us realise how famous and popular Shakespeare is and how lucky we are to live in the same place as him. When we walk along the river it reminds us of the play Hamlet.

At first I thought Shakespeare plays were for grown ups because of all the odd words, but now I know that everyone can understand what Shakespeare is trying to say. It's just like learning a new language – but easier!

This project is supported by Stratford Town Trust, 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: www.stratfordtowntrust.co.uk.

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Teaching Shakespeare