Ed Vaizey visits school to experience web cast of RSC show

22 June 2012

Ed Vaizey visits London school to experience web cast of Royal Shakespeare Company show

I, Cinna (The Poet)

Konnie Huq to host film and post show Q and A with Malorie Blackman, Tim Crouch and Jude Owusu

On 2 July at 10am Ed Vaizey, Minister of Culture, Communications and Creative Industries will join Year 7 and 8 children in their classroom at Phoenix School in Shepherd's Bush, London to launch a special live and online event taking place simultaneously in classrooms nationwide – the first time that such an ambitious project has ever been undertaken.

Children from around the UK will watch and respond live to the web cast of I Cinna (The Poet), a new play inspired by Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, written and directed by Tim Crouch for a young audience. The one man show tells the story of Julius Caesar through the eyes Cinna (the poet), a minor character in the play. The play asks students to think about the power of words and how words can be used to influence change in the world. Cinna asks students to write their own words and poems as they watch the performance. These poems are then submitted to the RSC online, where a celebration of responses to the play will be hosted.

The production is the result of a unique collaboration between the RSC, project sponsor CISCO, Ravensbourne College and Janet (one of the world's leading research and education networks) and is part of the World Shakespeare Festival produced by the RSC for London 2012 Festival.

At 10.30am on Monday 2 July, a filmed version of the play will be streamed exclusively to hundreds of classrooms in England and Wales – including Phoenix School. During the performance, the actor invites the audience to write poetry and respond to questions about the power of words and whether they can change anything. It will be followed by a live question and answer session hosted by television presenter Konnie Huq with the children's author Malorie Blackman, director Tim Crouch and the actor playing Cinna, Jude Owusu, all in a studio at Ravensbourne College. Students will be able to submit questions online to the panel of artists about any element of the performance they've experienced in their classrooms.

Welcoming the Ministers to Phoenix School and introducing them to this innovative collaboration will be Executive Headteacher Sir William Atkinson, the RSC's Artistic Director Michael Boyd and RSC Executive Director Vikki Heywood CBE as well as the RSC's Director of Education, Jacqui O'Hanlon.

This unique online event gives students aged 11 to 16 the chance to participate in a real-time nationwide project in which they can interact with thousands of other young people across the country. The project will showcase how digital media can make the arts more engaging and far reaching.

It will be a one click and play live broadcast, which teachers will be able to access on their computer and play through any projection device in the classroom, including a whiteboard.

Two teams of students from Ravensbourne have been working on this project. One team have filmed and edited a performance of I, Cinna (the poet) and the other team have developed an online platform for the project – http://icinna.org.uk/.

The challenge for each team has been to capture the spirit of the performance, and to present it for young audiences. Ravensbourne students, including director Robert McGroary and editor Guy Ward worked closely with the RSC and I Cinna director and writer Tim Crouch under the guidance of Ravensbourne tutors. Ravensbourne, based at Greenwich Peninsula, London, is a specialist university sector college innovating in digital media and design.

The challenge for each team has been to capture the spirit of the performance, and to present it for young audiences. Ravensbourne students, including director and editor worked closely with the RSC and I Cinna director and writer under the guidance of Ravensbourne tutors. Ravensbourne, based at Greenwich Peninsula, London, is a specialist university sector college innovating in digital media and design.

Jude Owusu, who plays Cinna, plays the same role in the Royal Shakespeare Company's acclaimed new production of Julius Caesar, directed by the RSC's Artistic Director Designate Gregory Doran. Doran's production is set in Africa and is currently running in Stratford-upon-Avon and will soon tour to Newcastle, followed by a season in the West End followed by a nationwide tour. Julius Caesar has also been filmed by Illuminations for the BBC and will be aired this weekend as part of the BBC's Shakespeare Unlocked season.

I, Cinna (The Poet) will engage a young audience to think and write, considering the relationship between words and actions, art and politics, self and society. It is the latest in a series of solo shows written by Tim Crouch inspired by Shakespeare's lesser characters, including I, Peaseblossom and I, Malvolio. As well as the filmed version, there have been three live performances on the RSC's Swan Theatre stage in Stratford-upon-Avon, with one on Friday 6 July.

There is an extensive education programme supporting the I Cinna webcast which includes detailed online resources for teachers and students. These explore I,Cinna (The Poet) and Julius Caesar, offering students an alternative take on Shakespeare which can be used as a first introduction to his work or as a way of developing a deeper understanding of Julius Caesar.

Teachers can still register for this free online event on http://icinna.org.uk

  • For further information please contact Nada Zakula at the RSC Press Office on 01789 412622 or nada.zakula@rsc.org.uk

Notes to Media:

If you would like to attend the streaming of I, Cinna (The Poet) at Phoenix School in Shepherd's Bush, a participating school in your region, or at Ravensbourne on 2 July - please register your interest with Nada Zakula in the RSC press office.

Schedule - 2 July

10am Ed Vaizey arrives at Phoenix High School, welcomed by Sir William, Michael Boyd, RSC Artistic Director, and Jacqui O'Hanlon, RSC Director of Education, and representatives from Cisco.

10 -10.30am     Brief tour of school, introduction to the I Cinna (The Poet) project and Phoenix students taking part (two classes from Years 7 and 8),
Media photo-opportunity and time for short interviews.

10.30amYear 7 and 8 students watch the I Cinna live webcast. This begins with 5 minute introduction hosted live from Ravensbourne College to all schools taking part, inviting the students to watch online and actively respond to the performance in their classrooms during the broadcast. Director, Tim Crouch, actor Jude Owusu (who plays Cinna) and author Malorie Blackman will be at Ravensbourne.

10.35am Performance begins online to all participating schools.

11.20am Performance ends and there's a short break for students to talk to their teachers about what they've seen and agree what questions they want to pose.

11.35am Live hosted Q&A from Ravensbourne, with Tim Crouch, Jude Owusu and Malorie Blackman.

11.50am Event concludes.


Extracts from the film will be available.

The World Shakespeare Festival (WSF) is a celebration of Shakespeare as the world's playwright, produced by the Royal Shakespeare Company, in an unprecedented collaboration with leading UK and international arts organizations. It runs until November and forms part of London 2012 Festival which is the culmination of the Cultural Olympiad, bringing leading artists from all over the world together in a UK-wide festival in the summer of 2012.

For further details http://www.worldshakespearefestival.org.uk/
The World Shakespeare Festival is supported by BP, as founding Presenting Partner, and by the National Lottery through the Olympic Lottery Distributor and Arts Council England.
Social media links at www.facebook.com/worldshakespearefestival and www.twitter.com/wsf2012

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Janet provides a world-class network infrastructure to meet the needs of the UK's research and education community. The Janet backbone consists of over 5,000 km of dedicated optical fibre which can run at 100Gbit/s. With over 25 years of uninterrupted service to date, the Janet network now has a community of 18 million users. Janet additionally provisions services, including videoconferencing, voice and cloud computing.
The concept of a community underpins everything Janet does and the network is based on the need for organisations to communicate, collaborate and co-operate in the shared interests of education and research.
Janet manages the operation and development of the network on behalf of JISC (Joint Information SystemsCommittee) for the UK Further and Higher Education Funding Councils with the primary aim of providing and developing a network infrastructure that meets the needs of the research and education communities. JISC also works in partnership with the Research Councils.

For marketing enquiries please contact Jennie Stewart at Janet on 01235 822200 or email ja.marketing@ja.net

For technical enquiries please contact Tim Boundy at Janet on 01235 822200 or email tim.boundy@ja.net paul.wakefield@ja.net

Ravensbourne is a university sector college innovating in digital media and design. It has a community of approximately 1,700 students and offers vocational digital media and design courses from pre-degree, undergraduate and postgraduate to professional short course level. Ravensbourne champions the creative exploitation of digital technology through innovation and collaboration. It is driven by industry standards and supported by the latest high-performance technology, producing highly employable and enterprising graduates. It has a strong track record in graduate employability and business creation. Today Ravensbourne also hosts more than 100 creative technology businesses alongside its student community who utilise its leading edge technologies, media resources and collaborate with its student body and industry partners.


About RSC Education - Through its education work with over 25,000 students, 1,300 schools and 2,500 teachers each year in the UK and internationally, the RSC aims to make Shakespeare vivid, accessible and enjoyable for students and their teachers. The RSC believes students get the most out of Shakespeare when they do it on their feet, see it live and start it early, as set out in Stand Up for Shakespeare (http://www.rsc.org.uk/downloads/manifesto.pdf ), its manifesto for the teaching, learning and performance of Shakespeare's plays in schools.

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