To cast or not to cast

Learning Lines #14

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

On 29 May when we returned from half term I held the auditions for those who had signed up for acting roles. The pupils had to stand and say a nursery rhyme. Everyone would have a part but for the main roles we were looking for children who didn’t freeze and who spoke loudly and with confidence. I also wanted them to look the part. Helena has to be taller than Hermia (it’s in the script). I also envisaged Puck as small and the fairies as little and light.

You also need to talk to the class teachers about the children, the main parts are demanding and the pupils need to be academically able enough to learn the lines for the main roles of the lovers, Puck, Oberon and Titania. I was very keen to give the quieter and less confident children parts but I was concerned that the major roles would be rather tricky for them to master.

In terms of casting there were far more girls than boys in the year groups and the girls were confident, outgoing and more of them wanted to act. I employed some creativity and gender swapped a lot of the roles with most of the workmen (rustics) becoming girls and we had a female Puck. 

Finally everyone was cast, but I needed a reliable assistant director and Jodie was a perfect choice, I knew she was organised but she ended up second guessing me! She also had the added role of the Indian page so she was on stage too which was great. 

“I was his (Mr Smith’s) assistant (director) and I loved it because I got to boss people around. I felt excited about everything - they needed an assistant so I stepped up; they needed a prompter so I stepped up to that as well. I felt like I was surrounded by lots of people and I was. I loved prompting which is when you correct people I was EXCITED!" - Jodie

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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