Our company of young actors is preparing to take The Merchant of Venice on tour from the end of September.

Twenty-two students from our Next Generation: ACT company will join a professional adult cast on stage in First Encounters: The Merchant of Venice this autumn, taking turns playing Jessica and Lorenzo in the show.

These talented youngsters have been recruited from our associate schools to develop their acting skills with the help of RSC creatives and professionals. The programme supports gifted students from disadvantaged backgrounds who want to learn to act, direct or work backstage, giving them experience of life in the theatre.

The young actors came together for two weekends in February and April and a four-day residential this summer, where they prepared and rehearsed for the show with Director Robin Belfield, Actor Eloise Secker and Movement Director Ingrid Mackinnon. Their next rehearsals will come before the performances, as they get on stage with the rest of the company for the first time. 

Browse our gallery below to see what happened during rehearsals:

The Next Generation actors have been enthusiastic about the chance to perform in the play. Mohamed, aged 16, said that he is most excited about "the group, the company, the play, and the opportunity to act alongside talented and experienced actors". Megan, 18, agrees, adding that the experience has already opened her eyes to the theatre industry.

This First Encounters production is a 90-minute adaptation of The Merchant of Venice designed as an introduction to Shakespeare for 7-13 year olds, but that can be enjoyed by all ages. The show runs from 23 September - 16 November, with performances in schools and theatres around England.