News: Playing Shakespeare

February 15, 2010

Some of the young audience members at Playing Shakespeare

The very thought of Shakespeare at school sent shivers down my spine. I use to complain and moan when we would have to brandish ourselves with the work of the Bard. Why, and more to the point how do we know that this Shakespeare line is meant to mean this? The answer of “because it is”, never really filled me with much joy.

Of course, now a few years down the line and a wider knowledge of theatre has led me to believe that actually Shakespeare and his works is not only important for us to know of as British citizens but also vital in understanding how theatre has developed. A part of this undertaking of accepting the work of Shakespeare as a pleasure rather than pain seems to be a prominent feature of the work from The Globe Theatre.

Enter Stage Left: Playing Shakespeare

Back in 2006 The Globe Theatre embarked on a challenge to change perspectives of young people towards Shakespeare in education by actively engaging them in the core of the theatres work. Some 4 years down the line and the Education work of the Globe Theatre is immense, and possibly unknown to most people.

In March 2010 The Globe Theatre will once again be bringing their Playing Shakespeare programme to the hearts of students and young people aged 11 to 14 by giving away 14,000 free tickets to their production of Macbeth, along with other free tickets for members of the public on special open performances.

Not only are they providing the opportunity to engage with the work directly through their free ticketing scheme but the resources available for the participants is both impressive and huge. There are in-depth and interactive web resources (what a better way to engage with young people these days!), professional developement days for teachers and even in-school workshops.

Shakespeare is finally open to our younger generations through a means that doesn’t throw scene after scene down their necks expecting them to understand the meaning. The online resources allow for discussions, insights into the characters and plot in a method that younger people understand and already engage with.

To get an idea of the sort of engagement that the Globe Theatre are portraying check out their Playing Shakespeare website at www.playingshakespeare.org which will shortly be bursting to life in the coming months.

A big thumbs up to the Educational department at the Globe Theatre for continuing to get rid of that horrible feeling that Shakespeare is not accessible, the truth: It is.

For more information see the Globe Education website on www.globe-education.org

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Opportunities For Young People In Theatre

September 3, 2009
TheBigBreak2

The Big Break

This week see’s the National Theatre in connection with Spine Breakers launching ‘The Big Break‘, a young scriptwriter competition. Aimed at 13 to 18 year olds the competition gives the chance of adapting Meg Rosoff’s How I Live Now, through working with top directors, writers and actors at the National Theatre by seeing your words brought to life.

Whilst this is a great opportunity for young people to get their writing skills in action leading for a fantastic opportunity at the National Theatre, it does leave me pondering what other opportunities are out there for young people/teenagers in actively engaging within the arts (or mostly theatre).

Of course the National Theatre is constantly striving to work towards promoting themselves as an establishments that works closely with Young People, and nurturing the next generation of Theatre Makers. The New Connections programme at the National Theatre actively seeks new talent from groups of schools and youth groups, leading to presenting their work in the main spaces of the National Theatre and working closely with well known writers. Sadly however, New Connections will be closing their doors for a while as they re-establish themselves within the National Theatre… so how does this gap get filled?

Battersea Arts Centre

Battersea Arts Centre

The Battersea Arts Centre,  (BAC) springs to mind when thinking about the opportunities for young people. Their Young Peoples Theatre (YPT) gives 12 – 25 year olds the ‘chance to experiment, create and perform original theatre on a professional stage’. Often working with notable directors and practitioners, YPT are an energetic group of young people.

Although I’ve not been to one of their shows at the BAC I watched a paneled discussion on young people within theatre and the impact upon theatre work and audiences. The YPT members present certainly reminded myself of when I was of an age at a ‘young theatre group’, bursting with the desire to perform and be in theatre. I can certainly see stars in the making from YPT.

LyricYoungCompanyAnother well established theatre working with young people comes in the form of the Lyric Hammersmith. New International Company of Live Arts (NICOLA) the Lyric Young Company were outstanding in their delivery of talented young people. Everything from poetry, monologues and dance was thrown in. There seems to be a real flare within this programme with great results.

Whilst I have highlighted a few of the well known Young Peoples Theatre programmes around London there must be other opportunities for young people dotted all over the city with relation to theatre. There still needs to be more, as most of these groups are highly sought after and over subscribed with waiting lists.

I have spoken about in the past how the future of theatre relies upon the younger generations in bringing new creativity and energy into theatres. What I would love to see is a revolution where the younger generations have their time in taking over the theatres. Often us adults get caught up in being adults and lose all our sense of play and creativity. Why not take a moment to observe the younger generations and feed that energy into theatres, or better still allow that creativity to enter theatres directly through more Young Peoples Theatre organisations.

The time for theatre in the hands of the Younger Generations is upon us, but will you allow it?

If you are under the age of 25 and interested in finding out more about getting involved in theatre, then A Younger Theatre recommends Get Into Theatre.org for more information and opportunities.