The World's Largest Shakespeare Classroom: Preparing for the Broadcasts part 1

Children preparing for the RSC Schools' Broadcast
Children preparing for the RSC's Schools' Broadcast
Photo by Leigh Wolmarans © Lings Primary School – Image Licensing

We are very interested to hear how teachers across the UK prepare for our school broadcasts, Lings Primary School share their story with us.

Leigh Wolmarans Headteacher at Lings Primary School. Leigh is a teacher who has 'fallen into headship'; he is passionate about learning and teaching, and honoured to be at Lings and forever learning!

Part I

“All things are ready if our minds be so” (William Shakespeare Henry V) fitting words that totally sum up the process of getting young minds ready for the RSC schools' broadcasts. If young people are not ready to be engaged and excited by the broadcast and if they do not know why it is relevant for them, then you have missed an exceptional opportunity for a high standard of learning and teaching.

Maybe the concept of preparing 60 children for an RSC broadcast fills you with panic and dread, especially if you don't feel you have an 'excellent' knowledge of the play, plot or the characters. Well there is so much help at hand from the RSC that your job will be a lot easier than you think, the RSC provides loads of brilliant tools/resources to help you prepare the students and using these is really key to making the most of the broadcasts.

So, don't panic! Here are a few helpful handy tips from a fellow educator that may make this 'preparation' thing a bit simpler.

Act 1 scene 1

The material provided by the RSC is second to none and this MUST be your starting point. If they don't know how to do it then trust me no one does – it is their job! They have written a range of materials that can run over weeks, days or even hours. They have condensed the key aspects of the play and give you excellent advice on how to set up the class and what activities to use. I also like the fact that these are all on their website and are extremely easy to download and use. They provide images, prompt sheets, parts of the script …. The list is endless.

Act 1 scene 2

The RSC also provide images and sometimes footage of past performances. There are some excellent clips and animations on Youtube that will help you out even further. The RSC animations are excellent and are often a great way of introducing the play. There are also short clips of the play online which are incredibly helpful in giving your learners a real sense of what they are going to see. We tend to combine all these excellent tools in a series of resources for the lesson. One quick tip – use the great music that accompanies the plays as it really immerses the learners in the production.

Act 1 scene 3

 Run the sessions. This can be over a couple of weeks, it can be in an intense day devoted to the play or it can even be in a morning session where you cover the key parts of what they will be seeing. Don't tell them the whole story, leave parts for them to discover themselves, these are always the best moments! Make sure that they speak the text and get a chance to play some of the roles. Once again the RSC resources will tell you exactly how to do this, they literally hold your hand the whole way through!

Do you want to tell us your Broadcast story? Then please email us.

RSC School broadcasts are like RSC live Cinema broadcasts, but delivered for free directly to your classroom, connecting you and your students with thousands of other young people across the UK. The schools broadcasts are in real time, take place on a specific date and are followed by a live interactive Q&A with members of the cast. The broadcasts started in November 2013 with our production of Richard II with David Tennant. Since then we have live streamed The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Love's Labour's Lost and Much Ado About Nothing (Love's Labour's Won) and we haveHenry V to come on 19 November. Over 76,976 young people from across the UK have joined us so far. 

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