Parent Update - Young Shakespeare Company visit

Parental Update: Young Shakespeare Company visit – by Gemma Harris, Head of English.

 

Two households, both alike in dignity,
In fair Verona, where we lay our scene,
From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,
Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.
From forth the fatal loins of these two foes
A pair of star-cross'd lovers take their life.

 

On Wednesday 13th February, a troop of wandering actors descended upon Worle Community School’s auditorium and transformed the day into a world filled with the magic of Shakespeare’s stage. Throughout the “two-hour’s traffic” of their performance they shared ‘Romeo and Juliet’ with our Year 10 students.

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In modern society, theatre is often perceived as an elitist experience for those with high levels of education and wealth; however it wasn’t always that way. When Shakespeare’s plays were originally performed in Elizabethan England they were viewed as popular entertainment for the mass audience. For a mere penny, an Elizabethan theatre goer would be able to socialise with their fellow spectators in the ‘pit’ and witness a performance from the greatest performance company of their time. Sadly, the average price of a theatre ticket has risen to between £60 and £150 - a price that for many prevents access to a culturally enriching experience. This is where the Young Shakespeare Company are truly miracle workers. By staging the performance in our own school, they are able to significantly reduce the cost of the performance and enable every child in our Year 10 cohort to experience the marvel of Shakespeare’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’ first hand.

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The Young Shakespeare Company perform ‘in the round’ which means that the audience sit around the performance space and are encouraged to engage with the on stage action. Some students volunteered to perform with the actors and adopted the pivotal roles of Peter and Count Paris - much to the pride and delight of their fellow students. I particularly enjoyed watching act 1 scene 5, where students assisted in the roles of party goers and danced the night away (in a traditional conga line) whilst Romeo and Juliet fell in love at first sight. In addition to inviting students on stage, actors also move between the audience members and utilise improvisation to create a naturally spectacular viewing experience. Students didn’t just watch the play - they lived through it with the characters!

 

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Another reason why the Young Shakespeare Company is so successful stems from their unique ability to effortlessly combine the essential features of the original play script with aspects of modern culture. Whether through the modern attire of the actors or the use of contemporary music as the soundtrack to the performance, it was clear that students were captivated by the performance.

 

“The mix between modern and Shakespearean was really good as it helped to better understand the plot in a more entertaining and fun way without distorting the original message” Yr10 Student

 

“It was a really good production. They made the story both funny and interesting” Yr10 Student

 

“It was good because we were given interaction to keep us involved as well as explaining and demonstrating the roles/interpretations of the main characters” Yr10 Student

 

 

I would just like to finish by thanking Mrs Worthy for organising the visit from the Young Shakespeare Company, and for the Site Team who ensured that the students in Year 10 were presented with a performance that exceeded many of their wildest expectations; they truly experienced the joy and sorrow of the play of ‘Romeo and Juliet’.

 

For never was a story of more woe

Than this of Juliet and her Romeo.

 

 

Tracy Humphris