A moment of serendipity

Learning Lines #12

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.

RSC Dream Team logo, showing a donkey's head on a blue circle, which is decorated with colourful flags

How did all this start? To be honest a combination of chance and naivety. Teaching is like the army, never volunteer for anything, so why did I? After nearly 30 years in the classroom I should have known better, I guess I wanted to prove to myself I could still put on a play.

Having looked at the English Long Term Plan for the second half of the summer term I knew that my Year 5’s were doing a combined unit with Year 6 on A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  Our phase leader said that we would also be putting on an end of year performance of the play. At that point it dawned on me that my phase leader was going to leave it to me, my Year 6 colleagues were pre occupied with SATs and my other Year 5 colleague was off work with a fractured shoulder. 

I have directed plays before so I settled down and came up with the plan that our English teaching in the morning would be on A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The afternoons would include rehearsals and a study unit on Shakespeare and Tudor theatre. The only thing left to do was find a script…

I presumed finding a child friendly version of the play would be easy, but no, so appeared the first problem. 

I scoured the internet and found nothing. They were either written as a story or too simple. I was keen to keep some of Shakespeare’s language particularly as we would look to explore Elizabethan English in class. My Year 6 colleague found a version on the internet with some songs but I still hadn’t found the perfect play.

Then came the moment of serendipity- I tweeted the RSC to ask if they had any versions they could recommend, there was then a bit of a wait until they got back with a negative reply. A couple of days later RSC Education got in touch and sent me a request for my email address as “they had a proposal for me”. I was intrigued so sent my email and got a reply from Felicity at RSC Education explaining about “RSC Dream Team 2016” and their 30 and 60 minute edit of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and would we like to be the primary school to test it for them?  How could I refuse?

We agreed to use the script we had already bought for the English lessons and incorporate the songs into the RSC play to include more pupils in a choir. The RSC script, which we still hadn’t received would be used for the play especially as by then Miles Tandy from RSC Education had told me it would be sent with director’s notes.

So we were off!

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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