A costume, my kingdom for a costume

Learning Lines #17

To mark the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, we invited every UK school to join RSC Dream Team 2016 and to take part in a nationwide celebration of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. As part of this celebration we created a 60 and a 30 minute edit of the play for schools to perform.

Andy Smith, a teacher at Langland Community School, very kindly agreed to trial the 30 minute edit for us and this is a blog of his school's journey.


Week 5: Running out of time. This was the week where rehearsals went through that sticky stage when nothing seems to be improving and everyone is getting disillusioned. I knew it would pick up but as it was the children’s first time they didn’t and needed a lot of cajoling. I also knew I was losing Friday’s rehearsal as most of the Year 6s were at the secondary school for a transition day. 

On the Monday all the costumes were supposed to be in and generally they were, with just a few bits missing, but still no fairy costumes.

Monday’s rehearsal was mostly taken up with arranging positions on the stage but because the cast knew their positions from rehearsing on the floor, it was easy for them to adapt.

The big issue was with the choreography (and still no fairy costumes) because the choreographers dropped out at the last minute. In this week we had the music CD playing so the cast got used to stopping for the songs and this also helped them to learn the words. As Bottom’s song was playing Snout started to dance so I sent her off to teach Bottom the dance too, one dance done!

During the song in which the courtiers admonish Hermia at the start Lysander started dancing and wagging his finger -  two dances done! I had an idea for Oberon and Puck’s dance so I taught them that one wet lunchtime. Between us the children and I were getting there with the dances. Who needs a choreographer? 

We still had some dances left to create and I had a bit of a hunch and decided to act on it. During the previous Monday’s assembly I talked to Hermia, and told her that her last song would be broken with the Mechanicals’ play. Hermia was given the task to choreograph the dance to the final song after the curtain call - she was given a totally free rein. She asked Helena to help her. After that session and a week of lunchtimes they told me they had it done. Between the two of them at the end of Monday’s rehearsal they taught the cast. Boy was it good! Quite complicated in parts but I just sat back and they taught the cast brilliantly. One dance to go and Hermia told me she had an idea for Helena and Hermia’s dance so I left her to it. It was fantastic. 

Still no fairy costumes.

Oberon and Puck’s last speech, (Unit 24) and the Lovers' argument were still very sticky, the latter two totally halting the flow of the play. But I knew it would come together eventually.

End of the week and yes, you’ve guessed it. No fairy costumes..



Andy Smith

Andy Smith

Andy Smith, from Langland Primary School in Milton Keynes, has been a classroom teacher for 30 years mainly in schools in areas of high deprivation. He is blogging about his school’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream as part of RSC Dream Team 2016.

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