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.

School site-specific production for 2015 National Youth Theatre season

The National Youth Theatre presents Homegrown created Nadia Latif  and Omar El Khairy Photo by Helen Maybanks.jpg

Homegrown, a site-specific production set in a school in Bethnal Green, forms part of the NYT’s new season (Credit: Helen Maybanks)

A brand new play inspired by news earlier this year of three Bethnal Green schoolgirls’ journey to Syria to join militant group Isis will feature among the National Youth Theatre’s new season. Homegrown, created by director Nadia Latif and writer Omar El-Khairy, explores the implications of radicalism and extremism on people and communities behind the headlines. The site-specific production, featuring a huge cast of 113, will be performed at Raines Foundation Upper School in Bethnal Green in August.

NYT returns to the Ambassadors Theatre this autumn for its third West End rep season featuring a company of sixteen 18-25 year olds. The season is set to include: an adaptation of Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights from Stephanie Street; a production of Tom Stoppard’s abridged version of The Merchant of Venice for schools; and new play Consensual, exploring teenage hormones, teacher-student relationships and the UK’s age of consent, written by Evan Placey – the playwright behind Girls Like That and Pronoun. Placey’s new play will be the focus of a Sky Arts documentary this summer, which will follow cast and crew as they develop Consensual.

The National Youth Theatre presents Consensual by Evan Placey at the Ambassadors Theatre Photo by Helen Maybanks.jpg

Evan Placey’s Consensual will feature in the NYT’s West End rep season and will also be the focus of a Sky Arts documentary this summer (Credit: Helen Maybanks)

At the launch of the new season, NYT’s artistic director Paul Roseby said: ‘This season will celebrate the diversity, vibrancy and talent of Britain’s youth, with fearless new voices. Much has been said about the current challenges young people from disadvantaged and “diverse” backgrounds face trying to access our industry. We are the only company in the UK putting brave young talent on the West End stage in front of large audiences in a season of this scale.

‘I call on those concerned about access to do something about it by supporting the National Youth Theatre’s free opportunities. They are accessible to all, empower talented young people to learn on stage in front of an audience and lead to professional employment in the creative industries.’

Homegrown will run at Raines Foundation Upper School, Bethnal Green from 12–27 August; NYT’s West End rep season at the Ambassadors Theatre runs from 18 September to 4 December. For more information on these productions and others among the NYT 2015 season, visit www.nyt.org.uk.

Shakespeare’s Globe: The Merchant of Venice – performance review

The Merchant of Venice (Credit: Ellie Kurttz)

The Merchant of Venice (Credit: Ellie Kurttz)

Star rating
***
By Rachel Creaser, TD editorial assistant

Currently playing at Shakespeare’s Globe is The Merchant of Venice – part of the theatre’s Playing Shakespeare with Deutsche Bank season, now in its eighth year. It provides 17,000 free tickets to state-funded London secondary school students. Subsidised tickets for schools from outside London have also been made available – 8,400 for this particular production.

This production of The Merchant of Venice has been specifically created with an audience of 11 to 16 year olds in mind. The Playing Shakespeare initiative allows students the opportunity to experience Shakespeare live, and for some this may be the first time they’ve seen the Bard’s work in action: and it’s a great first experience.

There was lots of energy in the production right from the off – as I made my way to my seat, I was accompanied by live musicians (who were fantastic throughout), watching the cast dance on stage, and move round the space interacting with the audience. This initial connection and atmosphere helps to ward off any feelings that Shakespeare and his ‘olde worlde’ language are off limits to young people.

The story follows Bassanio who is hoping to win the heart of wealthy heiress Portia, who is looking for a suitor. Lacking funds, Bassanio turns to his good friend Antonio for help with money to pursue his love interest. Antonio, acting as a guarantor, secures a loan for Bassanio with Jewish moneylender Shylock, who agrees to charge no interest – but, if the debt cannot be repaid, Antonio must repay Shylock with a pound of his flesh. When Antonio’s ships are reported lost at sea – his only source of income to repay his loan to Shylock – he is brought before a court of law to plead his case.

Both Bassanio and Antonio look as if they’ve stepped out of an episode of Made in Chelsea in their sharp suits, and Portia is also decked out in stylish dresses and heels. These modern flecks help to make what is a relevant story to this era seem even more pertinent.

Catherine Bailey as Portia was enjoyable to watch – both confident and commanding, while still providing moments of wit. Mark Kane also had a great stage presence; particularly as the rather goofy clown-like Launcelot Gobbo – he received the biggest laughs of the evening.

This production is a great jumping off point for exploring the themes of the play further: Ognen Drangovski’s portrayal of Shylock sought audible sympathy from the audience, so it would be interesting to discuss with students how they felt Shylock was treated by the other characters. And what implications they felt his Jewish faith brought to the story. Also, what did they think was more important to Shylock:  money or his daughter Jessica?

The show’s microsite is just as user friendly and enjoyable as the Globe’s usual offerings, so take a visit to make the most of the resources available: http://2014.playingshakespeare.org.