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Feb 22 2012

Shakespeare Schools Festivals in 2012

40 primary schools will be under the spotlight this October as over 800 children from London perform Shakespeare’s plays on professional stages.

This initiative is an expansion of an annual event, the Shakespeare Schools Festival www.ssf.uk.com, which has been running for more than a decade but will allow primary schools to tread the boards for the first time this year, in a move to tackle literacy problems at an earlier age.

Children’s author, Michael Rosen, famous for ‘We’re Going on a Bear Hunt’ and ‘Who Put the Mustard in the Custard’, has agreed to be a Festival patron. He said “Poetry, fiction and drama […] can be the route for children to discovering emotions and thoughts they didn’t know they had, or discovering emotions and thoughts that they didn’t know other people had. A festival is an ideal way to get children involved in Shakespeare because it immerses them in the excitement of the time. There’s a buzz in the air that everyone wants to enjoy.”

Venues including The Orchard Theatre, Greenwich Theatre, The Riverside Studios, The Beck Theatre, The Pleasance Theatre, The Platform Theatre, The Broadway Theatre, The Kenneth More Theatre and The Secombe Theatre will host several nights of the Festival again this year, and will see pupils from the ages of 8 – 18 coming together to celebrate Shakespeare’s works.

SSF’s CEO Penelope Middelboe said “We are hugely excited about the expansion into primary schools. Shakespeare can be daunting for anyone but we know that the fact that the language can seem alien is a great leveller amongst good and poor readers alike. Once they’ve performed it, they no longer feel intimidated by the language and their resulting articulacy breeds confidence and raises ambitions. We also hope that dispelling the myths that Shakespeare is hard or irrelevant earlier will improve engagement later on.”

Local teacher Samantha O’Brien, from Canberra Primary School took part in last year’s primary pilot project. She explained “Every moment; from getting dressed into our costumes backstage; waiting in the wings for them to go on; the performance; the appraisal they had at the end….it was all amazing. As the kids left they asked ‘when do we start the next one?’ and ‘can we do it again?'”

SSF and the impact you have made upon our children and out school is immeasurable. It’s left a lasting impression and had certainly turned a few Canberra kids into avid Shakespeare fans already.’

SSF has devised Teacher Development workshops and resources especially for Key Stage 2, guiding teachers with little or no dramatic experience through the daunting stages from rehearsals and student comprehension to final performance. Primary school scripts have been specially devised with added narration, notes for teachers and pupils, and supporting curriculum packs.

Registration for SSF 2012 is now open. For more information go to: www.ssf.uk.com/howitworks

For interviews, case studies or further information about SSF contact Gwyn Ellis 0207 601 1824 / gwyn.ellis@ssf.uk.com.

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