The first national Shakespeare recital competition for secondary school students will take place on Sunday 29th January. The final of Off By Heart Shakespeare will be filmed in front of an audience this weekend and will be broadcast on BBC 2 in April. The programme will coincide with the launch of the World Shakespeare Festival 2012 and William Shakespeare’s 448th birthday.
Off By Heart Shakespeare will be presented by Jeremy Paxman and students will be judged by historian Simon Schama, actress and playwright Imogen Stubbs and Samuel West, theatre director and former star of Lucy Prebble’s ENRON.
The programme is a spin-off from the 2009 BBC contest Off by heart, which also was presented by Jeremy Paxman. The competition saw primary school students from across the country take-part in a poetry recital.
The nine finalists competing in this year’s Shakespeare themed competition are currently rehearsing at the Royal Shakespeare Company’s base in Stratford-upon-Avon. They will get the opportunity to meet artistic director Michael Boyd before the televised final. During their stay in Stratford, RSC practitioners are taking students through a number of workshops to help develop their voice and movement skills for the competition.
More information about the competition is available on the Off By Heart Shakespeare website. Also available are a number of resources to encourage teachers to get their students to explore the language of Shakespeare. There are tips for learning a Shakespearean speech off by heart, a voice and text preparation pack and ideas for teachers about how to go about setting up their own Shakespeare recital competition.