Young people take to the stage in UK’s largest youth drama festival
Education charity Shakespeare Schools Festival marked Shakespeare's 450th birthday year by throwing him the biggest party he has ever seen. The charity’s largest Festival to date will see 35,000 young people take to professional stages across the UK. From Southampton to Inverness, from Londonderry to Norwich, 130 theatres hosted a party to remember.
Throughout October and November, over 1000 30-minute renditions of the Bard’s best loved plays were brought to life; each evening seeing four different Shakespeare plays showcased. Primary, secondary and special schools all presented their own interpretations of Shakespeare on professional stages.
Year 11 Performing Arts students from Blacon High School performed 2 plays at the Contact Theatre, Manchester as part of this celebratory year. Julius Caesar – one of the most challenging plays to stage was performed in traditional togas, to a Rammstein soundtrack, by the smaller of the 2 ensembles with many actors portraying a number of roles to great effect. The larger ensemble performed Romeo and Juliet in a ‘Madchester’ style, resplendent in Manchester United and Manchester City football shirts with a soundtrack from Oasis, The Stone Roses, Joy Division and The Buzzcocks. Both companies performed again at Blacon High School the following week for family and friends who were unable to make the journey to Manchester.
Now in its 14th year, SSF aims to give young people the chance to experience the thrill of live theatre and raise their aspirations though achieving something amazing. This year, the charity has already showcased its work for His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales and invited local communities to come together in support of the hard work put in by every school involved.
For Penelope Middelboe, CEO of Shakespeare Schools Festival, the key to the Festival lies in giving children the chance to perform Shakespeare, empathise with the characters and make the stories their own:
“By creating a level playing-field, and constantly raising the bar artistically, we build bridges in the community across social, cultural and academic divides. It is the passion for performing Shakespeare that unites our young people so that, together, they can envisage a meaningful future.”
To join the party and support your local community, visit: ssf.uk.com
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