A Sprinkling of Fairy Dust

Learning Lines #18

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.

Two girls reading pages of a script
Photo by David Tett (c) RSc © RSC Browse and license our images

Week 6 - At last a break! I was allowed an extra 3 mornings from 9am until 11am break to rehearse and from Friday the small stage could stay up. On Monday I showed Jodie, my Assistant Director, how to set the stage up and the next five mornings at 8.45am registration she was in and had set it up by 9am and had all the props in place. A real star!

The rehearsals that week started to come together. On Monday we had unit 24 nailed. On Monday morning we also had the choir for the first time and they fitted in as if they had always been there, the only issue with them was they needed to face the audience not watch the play (which they wanted to do) but it was always thus. 

Monday before lunchtime I got the four lovers and rehearsed their speech. That afternoon we had a short rehearsal to music and managed to get the dance for the finale and entry and exit to the stage nailed. Helena and Hermia unveiled their dance which will be a show stopper, brilliant. The choreographer eventually managed to work with the fairies to teach them their dance, so all dances done. 

But still no fairy costumes.

Tuesday morning I had the entire cast rehearsing with me as I took full advantage of all the Year 6 staff being occupied analysing their SATs results. The rehearsal went well and all the cast knew their words, at last. The argument scene still needed some action and everyone needed to be louder and slower, but we can work on this. After break as dinners were being set up in the hall, we used a classroom and discussed acting techniques such as getting in and staying in role and the audiences need to see them as a character not a pupil. The director’s notes were very useful at this point because they gave me ideas to pass on to the actors about how their character was feeling and to help them find their ‘motivation’ (to use a bit of actors speak!). 

On Wednesday we had no rehearsals as we had £3000 worth of new stage lights being fitted so in the afternoon we had a costume fitting and went through the words of the songs. 

On Thursday at last fairy costumes, well most of them and the morning rehearsal went well, just needing the sprinkling of fairy dust to make it magical. Also the back stage talking finally stopped as the children understood that they were distracting the actors on stage and taking themselves out of role. We had the lights for the first time too. 

On Friday morning we had the technical rehearsal with all the lights and sound so the acting played second fiddle to a certain extent.  Friday afternoon there was a full dress rehearsal which went very well with a few minor issues except the actors needed to be louder and slower. The Musical Director decided afterwards that the choir needed neck ties. Still not of all the fairy costumes although Titania, Oberon and Puck are now complete.

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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