Free tickets to all London and Birmingham secondary schools for 2016’s Playing Shakespeare

"Playing Shakespear with Deutsche Bank", PSWDB, at the Globe Theatre. School children get the chance to see a Shakepear play "The Merchant of Venice" performed at the Globe. Date: 12 March 2014 Photograph by Amit Lennon

Last year’s Playing Shakespeare with Deutsche Bank production, The Merchant of Venice (Credit: Amit Lennon)

Shakespeare’s Globe has announced that 2016’s Playing Shakespeare schools’ production will be Twelfth Night, running from 25 February–18 March 2016. Secondary state schools in London and Birmingham are eligible for an unlimited number of free tickets for weekday performances at 2pm during the period 25 February–10 March, and for the 7pm performance on 1 March.

State schools outside the London and Birmingham areas, as well as independent schools and colleges, can book reduced rate tickets ranging from £5 to £15 for weekday performances at 2pm during the period 11–18 March.

Supporting the production will be free schools’ workshops, launching in December, CPD sessions for teachers, classroom resources, and a dedicated Twelfth Night website which will launch in January next year.

London, 26th February 2015: Othello at Shakespeare’s Globe, directed by Bill Buckhurst, as part of Globe Education’s Playing Shakespeare with Deutsche Bank 2015

Othello was 2015’s Playing Shakespeare production (Credit: Cesare DeGiglio)

The play, specially designed for GCSE and A-level students, will fit the National Curriculum specification for KS3 (where students are required to study two of Shakespeare’s plays) and KS4 (where students are assessed on one of the Bard’s works).

The Playing Shakespeare initiative will celebrate its tenth anniversary in 2016. Through Globe Education’s partnership with Deutsche Bank, Playing Shakespeare has presented over 117,000 free tickets to schools, with over 70% of schools taking part from every London borough.

Booking for Playing Shakespeare’s production Twelfth Night opens in September; www.shakespearesglobe.com/playing-shakespeare.

Book of Mormon wins big at 2014 Olivier Awards

Book of Mormon: big winner of the Olivier Awards 2014

Book of Mormon: big winner of the Olivier Awards 2014 (Image credit: Johan Persson)

It was a night of twists and turns at the Olivier Awards on 13 April, as the predicted big winners came away with smaller prizes and the underdogs prospered at the ceremony at London’s Royal Opera House.

Book of Mormon from South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone came away with four prizes, including the coveted best new musical title. They were awarded with best theatre choreographer for Casey Nicholaw, best actor in a musical for Gavin Creel, and best performance in a supporting role in a musical for Stephen Ashfield. Lucy Kirkwood’s Chimerica also had similar success, collecting three awards for best new play, best director for Lyndsey Turner and best set design, as well as sharing two other prizes.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – which looked to follow in the footsteps of Matilda, leading this year with seven nominations –came away with two smaller nods at this year’s awards: best costume design and best lighting design, which the production shared with Chimerica. Fellow nominee leader for the 2014 awards Merrily We Roll Along also came away with just two prizes for best sound design, shared with Chimerica, and best musical revival.

In the acting categories, the best actress title went to Lesley Manville, and best actor in a supporting role was awarded to Jack Lowden, both for Ghosts; Rory Kinnear won best actor for his turn as Iago in the National Theatre’s production of Othello; best actress in a musical went to Once’s Zrinka Cvitešić; and best actress in a supporting role was awarded to Sharon D Clarke for the National’s The Amen Corner.

For the full list of winners and for highlights of the 2014 ceremony, visit www.olivierawards.com.

Theatre figures feature in New Year honours

66ème Festival de Venise (Mostra)Leading figures from the theatre industry have been recognised in 2013’s New Year honours.

Scottish actor Ewan McGregor is to receive an OBE for his services to drama, as will Adrian Lester, who will play Othello in Nicholas Hytner’s new production at the National later this year.

Other recipients include: RADA registrar Patricia Myers, for her services to higher education; Guardian theatre critic Michael Billington; theatre producer and chief executive of Nimax theatres, Nica Burns; and Talawa Theatre Company’s artistic director Patricia Cumper.

Shakespeare: staging the world – exhibition review

Star Rating
****
A great connection between context and text. For KS5+ students or for teachers looking to explore the world of Shakespeare that much more.

Shakespeare: staging the world is not your usual Shakespeare exhibition – it is not the Bard’s own work which is at the fore, the exhibition instead focuses on the world which surrounded Shakespeare and how that shaped the content of his plays. The accompanying catalogue says: ‘Shakespeare’s audiences learned at the playhouse what was happening abroad – or what they imagined to be happening abroad.’

The exhibition leads you through the various parts of the world which shaped many of Shakespeare’s plays. London is shown as it would have been during Shakespeare’s era – maps demonstrate the growing use of the Thames, which gave London greater connections to the rest of the world – significant to the influences on Shakespeare’s writing.

Modern elements breathe life into the exhibition. The RSC have filmed a number of short extracts from plays such as As You Like It and Henry V which are projected onto the walls amongst the items on show. This, if nothing else, truly connects the historical context to Shakespeare’s words. It also adds a somewhat more dynamic design element to the experience.

Items on display help to contextualise some of the significant moments in his writing. The political unease found in Macbeth is said to reflect the impact of Guy Fawkes gun powder plot on the country. The witches casting a spell to concoct a storm at sea is said to reflect James I’s fear that he would drown in a shipwreck at the work of the devil. Macbeth clearly engages much of the political paranoia that existed at the time.

The exhibition would be most useful for KS5+ students, specifically those studying Shakespeare’s plays performed in their original performance conditions. There is great contextual evidence for Macbeth, Othello, Julius Caesar and the many of his works based on monarchs of the country. Making that connection between Shakespeare’s work and what was happening at the time will help to open up students understanding on a whole new level – and may give them a different view point on his plays.

The general consensus on the popularity of Shakespeare is that it stems from his ability to be ‘all things to all men’ through his use of universal themes. Shakespeare: staging the world confirms that assertion, as it displays how in tune Shakespeare was with the world around him and that his plays reflected the contemporary issues affecting the world at the time.

Open until 25 November 2012. To book tickets visit: www.britishmuseum.org/whats_on/exhibitions/shakespeare_staging_the_world.aspx