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RSC PLAYMAKING FESTIVAL MOVES ONLINE

  • Royal Shakespeare Company and Samsung deliver creative challenges for young people inspired by experience of living in lockdown. 
  • Annual Playmaking Festival moves online featuring contributions from over 100 young people from 75 schools nationwide. 
  • Samsung Tablets distributed to school children in Hull, Stoke-on-Trent, Birmingham, Cornwall and Bradford who would otherwise struggle to access creative opportunities online. 

Download images of previous festivals

Over 100 young people from the Royal Shakespeare Company’s (RSC) Associate Schools Programme, supported by Samsung, have been working in partnership with RSC practitioners and local theatres across the UK to share a series of original digital responses to Shakespeare’s plays in lockdown.

In previous summers the, pupils from across country have followed in the footsteps of some of the world’s best-known actors when they performed on stage in Stratford-upon-Avon as part of the RSC’s Playmaking Festival for schools.

Due to the ongoing impact of COVID-19 and the cancellation of all planned Royal Shakespeare Company performances and activity this Spring, the Playmaking Festival, originally spanning eight days between 29 June – 14 July can no longer go ahead as planned.

In response to this unprecedented challenge, the RSC and Samsung have worked together to ensure the Playmaking Festival is able to take place online in 2020, featuring contributions from over 75 schools nationwide.

Each week for five weeks, schools in the Associate Schools Programme network are being set a Creative Challenge. Inspired by the themes of As You Like It and The Taming of the Shrew and drawing upon young people’s personal experience of living through lockdown, each of these challenges has been designed to be completed either by pupils still at school or by those learning from home.

Touching on themes of solitude, isolation, family relationships, mental wellbeing, the healing power of nature, hope and redemption, the creative challenges included opportunities for young people to:

  • Design their own versions of the Forest of Arden using photographs or found materials
  • Film a video of themselves performing well-known speeches from Shakespeare’s plays
  • Create Petruchio’s wedding outfit from The Taming of the Shrew

A musical challenge, featuring an original composition by Guy Hughes, inspired by Under The Greenwood Tree, will also see young people from across the UK come together for a collective sing-a-long on Wed 8 July, featuring solo and group musical performances from across the network.

A compilation of virtual performances will premiere on YouTube on Wed 8 July, on what would have been a day of performances as part of the Playmaking Festival on the Swan stage in Stratford.

The festival will also include the premiere of an original piece of work by the RSC’s young company of actors, Next Generation Act. Inspired by Giovanni Boccaccio’s The Decameron, Decameron2020: Under Lockdown looks at young people’s hopes, fears and responses to living in an age of lockdown.

The production was originally due to be performed at The Other Place this Summer as part of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Projekt Europa Festival, a new season of work celebrating the best of European theatre and theatre-making.

Made up of 25 young people aged between 13 and 17,Next Generation Actis one strand ofRSC Next Generation,a unique talent development programme that providesgifted young people from backgrounds currently under-represented in the theatre industry the opportunity to gain experience in acting, directing or backstage roles and explore whether a career in the theatre is for them.

The whole festival is being supported by Samsung Electronics UK, RSC’s Presenting Corporate Partner of the Associate Schools Programme, as part of its ongoing CSR commitment to inspire learning through technology.

Samsung has generously provided tablets to young people who would otherwise struggle to access these kinds of creative opportunities online. These devices have been distributed in consultation with the RSC Education team and regional theatre partners to enable participants to film and document their participation in the Festival. These schools include Treviglas Academy, Newquay; St Mary's College, Hull; Springhead Primary School, Stoke-on-Trent; Nelson Mandela School, Birmingham and Bradford College.

RSC Director of Education, Jacqui O’Hanlon said:

“In these unprecedented times, there is growing concern about the impact of Covid 19 on the mental well-being of young people. Theatre and arts have a vital role to play in the recovery of young people, communities and schools. The Playmaking Festival is one example of many across the UK and around the world where we see an outpouring of artistic work from people of all ages and at all stages of their lives.”

We can’t currently bring young people together physically in the way we would normally, but we can provide an opportunity for them to come together in a virtual space to showcase their creativity and retain their connection and community with each other.

When schools join our Associate Schools programme they commit to working in long term partnership with the Royal Shakespeare Company and their regional theatre. At the heart of that work is a passion for making theatre together, whether that’s working on a scene in a classroom or, in this particular case, working virtually with RSC practitioners to unlock Shakespeare’s plays.

Our Playmaking Festival celebrates the talent of the young people, teachers and regional theatres we are privileged to work in partnership with. It’s a celebration of the profound impact that partnerships between schools and theatres can have on the lives of students, partnerships forged out of a shared vision for education in which access to the arts plays a central part.

Jessie Soohyun Park, Head of CSR at Samsung Electronics UK said:

“Samsung is globally committed to empowering our next generation to achieve their full potential through education and we are proud to continue our support of the RSC’s Associate Schools Programme. As ever, we feel humbled by the sheer talent and passion of everyone involved in the initiative.

In these challenging times, we have strived to find new ways to continue providing and widening access to life-enriching cultural experiences through technology. For some, we have no doubt that it could be life-changing, as there has never been a more important time than now for empathy, compassion and creativity. We can’t wait to hear our young people’s voices and see what they create.”

Lead Associate schools will also receive dedicated support from RSC Directors, who are working closely with school and community groups across the UK to create original performances for the July Playmaking Festival.

In Bradford, Director Justin Audibert worked with students from Bradford College, home to a weekly Shakespeare Club, to devise an original piece of work inspired by The Taming of the Shrew. Many of the students who attend Shakespeare Club have English as a second language. The group includes members of the city’s migrant and refugee communities who have been attending the club whilst mixing with native English speakers to improve their language and social skills.

Meanwhile, Director Leigh Toney, who was Assistant Director to Justin Audibert and Gregory Doran on the 2019 productions of The Taming of the Shrew and Measure for Measure, worked with forty pupils at Sydenham Primary School in Leamington Spa. Leigh ran a workshop for the children from whiteboards in their classrooms, introducing them to As You Like it and helping them to create the Forest of Arden physically and using Shakespeare words from the play.

For more information about RSC Education and the work it does in schools nationwide, please visit rsc.org.uk/education

The Royal Shakespeare Company is a charity and our mission is to transform lives through amazing experiences of Shakespeare and great theatre. To make a gift to the RSC, visit rsc.org.uk/support/make-a-donation/

For more press information please contact:
Kate Evans
Media and Communications Manager, Royal Shakespeare Company
kate.evans@rsc.org.uk

NOTES TO EDITORS:

About RSC Associate Schools Programme

The RSC Associate Schools Programme is the RSC’s long-term partnership programme with 261

schools and 11 regional theatre partners[1] nationwide that aims to immerse teachers and students in new

ways of learning about and teaching Shakespeare’s plays. The programme creates pathways for

teachers, students, and artists to develop their talents and skills; build leadership capacities; and become ambassadors for Shakespeare, theatre, and arts in their communities.

The Associate Schools programme is built around the principle of schools working in local partnerships to develop communities of practice inspired by Shakespeare’s work. We aim for each local partnership to consist of a Lead Associate School who in turn recruits a number of Associate Schools. In many cases these local partnerships include a regional theatre as well as the Royal Shakespeare Company.

Schools that are interested in becoming a Lead school need to demonstrate a commitment to the teaching of Shakespeare at levels of the school, including governors and senior leadership. They also recruit and coordinate a cluster of up to ten Associate Schools in their area. The programme aims to enrich the teaching, learning and performance of Shakespeare’s work nationally.

The Associate Schools programme is open to any state-maintained primary, secondary and special schools in England, particularly those serving areas of socio-economic disadvantage.

Further information can be found at rsc.org.uk/education

About RSC Next Generation

From the first ever RSC young company of actors, to discovering the next generation of directors, managers and theatre specialists, RSC Next Generation, is a unique talent development programme that gives gifted young people from disadvantaged backgrounds the opportunity to gain experience and explore whether a career in the theatre is for them.

The programme has three strands;

ACT: Up to 25 talented youngsters aged 13-18 will join RSC Next Generation to hone and develop their skills as actors.

DIRECT: This strand is for young people aged 18+ who demonstrate the obvious creative leadership and directing skills needed to take a play from page to stage.

BACKSTAGE: Each year 40 - 50 students aged 13-18 are given a ‘Backstage Pass’ to discover what goes on behind the scenes to bring each production to life.

About Samsung and the RSC

Since 2015, Samsung and the RSC have continued to work together to inspire young people by bringing Shakespeare to life through technology. The RSC Playmaking Creative Challenge forms a part of Samsung’s wider support for the Associate Schools Programme, building on the success of most recently an award-winning digital collaboration with Welcombe Hills School, a special needs school in Stratford upon Avon*.

*Welcombe Hills Collaboration: news.samsung.com/uk/award-winning-rsc-samsung-and-welcombe-hills-school-collaboration-wins-top-education-prize?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=direct

About corporate citizenship at Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd.

Samsung is committed to Enabling People by empowering future generations to achieve their full potential through education. The company operates educational programs around the world to create more inclusive, quality learning experiences for young people across society and nurture the next generation to become pioneers driving positive social change. To find out more about our UK initiatives, please visit :csr.samsung.com/en-gb/localMain.do

WITH THANKS TO OUR SUPPORTERS

The RSC is supported using public funding by Arts Council England.

The Playmaking Festival is supported by RSC Friends

RSC Next Generation is generously supported by The Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation and GRoW @ Annenberg.

The work of the RSC Education Department is generously supported by Paul Hamlyn Foundation, Adobe, GRoW @ Annenberg, The Allan and Nesta Ferguson Charitable Trust, The Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation, Samsung, The Schroder Foundation, The Polonsky Foundation, The Goldsmiths’ Company Charity, The Ernest Cook Trust, Teale Charitable Trust, The Grimmitt Trust, TAK Advisory Limited and Stratford Town Trust.

Arts Council Englandi s the national development body for arts and culture across England, working to enrich people’s lives. We support a range of activities across the arts, museums and libraries – from theatre to visual art, reading to dance, music to literature, and crafts to collections. Great art and culture inspires us, brings us together and teaches us about ourselves and the world around us. In short, it makes life better. Between 2018 and 2022, we will invest £1.45 billion of public money from government and an estimated £860 million from the National Lottery to help create these experiences for as many people as possible across the country.www.artscouncil.org.uk

The Royal Shakespeare Company creates theatre at its best, made in Stratford-upon-Avon and shared around the world.We produce an inspirational artistic programme each year, setting Shakespeare in context, alongside the work of his contemporaries and today’s writers.

We have trained generations of the very best theatre makers and we continue to nurture the talent of the future. We encourage everyone to enjoy a lifelong relationship with Shakespeare and live theatre. We reach 530,000 children and young people annuallythrough our education work, transforming their experiences in the classroom, in performance and online.

Everyone at the RSC - from actors to armourers, musicians to technicians - plays a part in creating the world you see on stage.All our productions begin life at our Stratford workshops and theatres and we bring them to the widest possible audience through our touring, residencies, live broadcasts and online activity. So wherever you experience the RSC, you experience work made in Shakespeare’s home town.Registered charity no. 212481 rsc.org.uk

To keep your RSC and support our mission to transform lives through amazing experiences of Shakespeare and live theatre, please consider donating.


[1] The Grand Theatre, Blackpool; The Alhambra Theatre, Bradford; Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury; Hall for Cornwall, Cornwall; Hull Truck Theatre, Hull; Intermission Youth; New Vic Theatre, Stoke on Trent; Northern Stage, Newcastle; Newcastle Theatre Royal; Nottingham Theatre Royal; York Theatre Royal

Patron Her Majesty The Queen President His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales
Chairman of the Board Nigel Hugill Deputy Chair Miranda Curtis
Deputy Chair Baroness McIntosh of Hudnall
Artistic Director Gregory Doran Executive Director Catherine Mallyon

Royal Shakespeare Company incorporated under Royal Charter. Registered charity No. 212481

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