Chris shares his experiences of the 18-25's Summer School and meeting fellow young theatre lovers from the UK and abroad

This year I took part in the RSC 18-25 Summer School. The RSC has been a big part of my life living in Stratford, not least because I am a young actor and writer. It has also been the destination of countless study days sitting in The Other Place coffee shop, first dates going to see shows and generally a backdrop for my day-to-day life - not a bad one I have to say!

However, my biggest connection was the RSC was performing in Erica Whyman’s production of Romeo and Juliet in 2018, where she chose to cast young people from the local schools (mine being Shipston High School) to be given the chance of a lifetime. It was a life-changing moment for me and solidified my dream of being an actor. Therefore, I jumped at the opportunity to once again work with the RSC.

When arriving on the first day, I assumed it would mostly be people from Stratford-upon-Avon, with maybe some attendees from far-flung Birmingham, how wrong I was. Not only were there Shakespeare lovers from up and down the country but from America, France and Germany too. Everyone started to become friends instantly, and it made for a fantastic experience.

The week included insightful academic Shakespeare sessions from the likes of Dr Erin Sullivan and Hannah Brumby intertwined with incredible voice and movement classes with practitioners like Sian Williams and Aaron Parsons mostly geared towards the incredible productions of All’s Well That Ends Well and Richard III that we were able to watch during the week.

There were so many amazing moments that I could mention, but the one that stands out to me most was during a movement session with Aaron Parsons (Associate Director Richard III). ‘Take a walk around the space’ is an instruction every actor has heard a thousand times, however, I’d never experienced it like this. Aaron encouraged us to first walk around feeling ‘on’ and then subsequently feeling ‘off,’ this made me reflect on how I feel and how that’s presented through movement in a way I’d never really considered. This was made even more powerful when Aaron encouraged us to engage in eye contact with one another, it sparked an empathetic connection that I’d never experienced in a drama workshop and I feel as if it influenced our closeness as a company in the following days.


"I loved seeing what Stratford-upon-Avon and Shakespeare meant to other people, people with different opinions, interests and abilities who came together to explore Shakespeare."

Most of all, this week gave me a completely new perspective on the RSC. I’ve always adored it, but it is part of the furniture in Stratford-upon-Avon. I’ve only really considered the RSC on its regional level, but this week showed me the impact it has as the home of Shakespeare on both a national and international level. It was amazing to see how Shakespeare has the power to draw people from all around the world together.

Obviously, I was always aware that the RSC was world-renowned, but you don't necessarily feel it when you’re in this bard bubble. I loved seeing what Stratford-upon-Avon and Shakespeare meant to other people, people with different opinions, interests and abilities who came together to explore Shakespeare in the best way- bringing the texts to life and exploring interpretation just like it should be studied.

The 18-25 Summer School was a great experience where we young people were able to bond over our love for the theatre, a regional, national and international love that was so amazing to see as someone who calls Stratford-upon-Avon their home. On behalf of everyone, I want to say a huge thank you to all the talented people that gave up their time for us, including the cast and directors of Richard III and All’s Well That Ends Well who’ve come together to make two spectacular shows.

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