Shakespeare Schools Festival

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The Shakespeare Schools Festival (SSF) charity is the UK’s largest youth drama festival. Schools who participate perform half hour abridged versions of Shakespeare's plays in local, professional theatres all over the United Kingdom. Since its inception in 2000 it has worked with 4,842 'teacher directors' and 100,000 young people.[1] 1000 schools (25,000 young people) will take part in the 2013 Festival in 120 theatres across the UK.

SSF aims to engage children through an active way of learning. The charity strives to bridge "the attainment gap" by boosting articulacy and confidence, as well as imparting key employability skills such as teamwork, peer leadership and critical thinking. In preparing and performing the plays participants also learn about Shakespeare's language, themes and characters.[1]

All schools are able to take part in the festival, and the charity actively targets disadvantaged schools and teachers who feel that their pupils cannot do Shakespeare.[1] After a pilot scheme in 2011, SSF now works with primary schools, with 7 new scripts specially abridged for younger participants. 330 primary schools are taking part in the 2013 Festival, alongside special schools and secondary schools.[2] Seven international groups are also participating in the 2013 UK Festival, covering all their own travel and accommodation costs.[3]

SSF is partnered with the Central School of Speech and Drama, who support workshops for the young casts participating.[4]

Shakespeare Schools Festival is a charity supported by numerous trusts and foundations and individual donors. The largest corporate sponsor is Telereal Trillium.[5] SSF's central office is currently housed at Telereal Trillium HQ at Bastion House, 140 London Wall, City of London.

The festival was featured recently on BBC Breakfast on Saturday 13 October 2012.[6]

History[edit]

The Festival began in 2000 and is now in its 14th year.[7]

1995 Shakespeare: The Animated Tales[edit]

In 1995, twelve of Shakespeare’s best loved plays were abridged to half hour scripts for the S4C and BBC Wales series, Shakespeare: The Animated Tales. Ninety per cent of the UK's secondary schools now use the Tales as their introduction to the language and plays of Shakespeare for years 7-10 (11-15 year olds), making it BBC Education's most popular series. In 2009 the films were made available by the DCSF to all English primary schools. In summer 2013 all twelve episodes were re-released on DVD in the UK by Metrodome Group Plc. They are distributed by Shakespeare Schools Festival.[8]

2000 Pembrokeshire: 8 schools, 240 pupils, 1 theatre[edit]

In 2000, Chris Grace, Director of Animation at S4C and Executive Producer of Shakespeare: The Animated Tales, and Penelope Middelboe, Series Editor of the same series, launched the Shakespeare Schools Festival (SSF). Leon Garfield's 12 abridgements for the animated series were made available by S4C to pupils and their teacher-directors from eight schools in Pembrokeshire. These secondary school students performed over two nights to sell-out audiences at the Torch Theatre, Milford Haven.

2001 London: 60 schools, 1,500 pupils, 3 theatres[edit]

October 2001 saw 1,800 pupils from 60 inner city London schools performing in three professional theatres. The Festival culminated in a Gala night at the West End’s Duke of York’s Theatre, which was attended by Cherie Booth QC and the Secretary of State DCMS, Tessa Jowell, who called the evening “one of the year’s cultural highlights”.

2002 Wales: 100 schools, 2,500 pupils, 10 theatres[edit]

With the support of the Welsh Assembly Government, the Arts Council of Wales and Cardiff 2002, Jenny Randerson AM launched the Wales 2002 Festival in the Old Library, Cardiff on 17 September. 3,000 pupils from 100 schools across the country performed in Welsh, English or bilingually, in one of 11 professional theatres.

2003 South West, West Midlands & Yorkshire[edit]

Embarking on a three year cycle to cover the whole of England and Wales, the Festival was launched nationwide at a reception hosted by Cherie Booth QC at 10 Downing St.

8,500 young actors from 340 schools performed in 32 theatres across the regions. Three schools were picked to perform at a private reception for the Washington state visit in Downing Street, in front of an audience which included Tom Stoppard and Philip Pullman. They went on to perform again for the Arts & Kids 'Million Kids' launch at the Hackney Empire in the presence of HRH the Prince of Wales.

2004 London, North West, East England[edit]

The year started with a fund-raising performance at the West End’s Peacock Theatre in the presence of HRH the Prince of Wales and Festival Patron, Kwame Kwei-Armah. In the summer one of the London schools took part in the National Youth Theatre’s 'Shakespeare In The Square event', securing themselves coverage on BBC London’s regional news.

During the festival 10,000 pupils from 380 schools performed in 38 theatres.

2005 East Midlands, North East & South East England[edit]

Tom Stoppard’s abridgement of The Merchant of Venice was premiered at the Linbury Theatre, Royal Opera House by a company of 2004 Festival performers and the National Youth Theatre. During the same year the BBC invited SSF to stage a one-day Festival in 100 theatres across the UK on Sunday July 3, as the launch of their Shakespeare Season, One Night of Shakespeare. Schools performed in theatres from the Shetland Isles to Bodmin, from Enniskillen to Margate and set the model for the Festival to become fully UK-national. The event set the world record for the most people performing Shakespeare on a single day (7,104)[9] and SSF attained a place in the Guinness Book of Records.

20,000 pupils from 800 schools performed in 140 theatres.

2007 Shakespeare Schools Festival, UK-wide[edit]

For the first time, the Shakespeare Schools Festival is held across the entire UK between the 5–9 February 2007. 22,000 pupils from 1056 schools performed in 110 theatres.

A fund-raising dinner was held at the Middle Temple, hosted by Anna Ford and Charles Dance. Cameo performances from participating schools were held at the National Theatre hosted by patron Nicholas Hytner.

2008 SYF, S24, Shakespeare in the City and Festival[edit]

February–March 2008 saw the launch of the Shakespeare Youth Festival (SYF), a UK-wide pilot which gave 16-21 year olds the opportunity to set up their own theatre company, to direct, produce, manage, tech, market and perform their own 45 minute abridegment of a Shakespeare play. 118 groups took part in 35 theatres.

Shakespeare 24 (S24) was an exciting worldwide Shakespeare performance event beginning in New Zealand and ending 24 hours later in Hawaii on April 23, 2008. 65 youth groups from 35 countries staged 30 and 45 minute adaptations of Shakespeare's plays at 7pm, local time on Shakespeare’s 444th birthday. One of the best productions from SYF, Jamila Gavin's abridgement of Measure for Measure was performed by the National Youth Theatre at Playhouse in Liverpool. The event was appraised by Phil Redmond, director of Liverpool, European Capital of Culture.

As part of the European Capital of Culture year SSF worked throughout Liverpool, with young companies from the Shakespeare Youth Festival performing in 33 venues and locations from museums and cathedrals to parks and bombed out churches.

To cap off a busy year, Shakespeare Schools Festival returned in the Autumn with 10,000 pupils from 500 Schools performing in 60 theatres UK-wide.

2009 Shakespeare Schools Festival, UK-wide[edit]

SSF joined in partnership with the National Theatre (providers of the Teacher Director workshops) and the National Youth Theatre (providers of the Cast workshops). NT directors and actors such as Carl Heap, Dominic Hill, Adrian Lester, Phyllida Lloyd, Hattie Morahan joined Nicholas Hytner in giving master classes for teachers. A contemporary script based on All's Well That Ends Well, written by Lucinda Coxon, was offered by the NT to teachers who had done SSF before. Jenny Agutter appraised performances at The Unicorn Theatre, Southwark and became a festival patron.

10,000 young people from 500 schools performed in 67 theatres.

2010 Shakespeare Schools Festival, UK-wide[edit]

Over 10,000 young people from 500 schools performed in 70 theatres. Dame Harriet Walter became a patron.

2011 Shakespeare Schools Festival, UK-wide[edit]

In July 2011 SSF held one of its more unusual fundraising events, putting Romeo on trial for the murder of Tybalt at Gray's Inn. SSF patrons Philip Pullman and Jenny Agutter took the witness stand in the roles of Friar and Nurse. Criminal QCs for the defence included John Kelsey-Fry QC and Claire Montgomery QC.[10]

Also in 2011 SSF ran audition workshops for 2000 young people across the UK for BBC Learning's project Off By Heart Shakespeare. Eight finalists from each of the nine regions were filmed delivering their Shakespeare speeches. Festival Director, Chris Grace, whittled these down to just nine young finalists who spent three days with the RSC at Stratford before taking part in a filmed final in the main theatre at Stratford with Jeremy Paxman as host. Judges were Simon Schama, Imogen Stubbs and Sam West.[11]

For the first time the festival is offered to primary schools, in a pilot project involving 50 primaries. In total 13,000 young people from 600 schools performed in 80 theatres. Francesca Martinez became a patron.

2012 Shakespeare Schools Festival, UK-wide[edit]

In 2012 SSF was invited by the British Museum education department to run workshops for secondary school students visiting the Shakespeare: staging the world exhibition.[12]

17,500 young people from 700 schools (179 primary) performed in 90 theatres. Michael Rosen and Ralph Fiennes both became patrons.

2013 Shakespeare Schools Festival, UK-wide[edit]

25,000 young people from 1,000 schools (330 primary) performing in 120 theatres.

Directors and Trustees[edit]

Chief Executive, Penelope Middelboe

Artistic Director, Chris Grace MBE

Development Director, Bhavita Bhatt

Finance Director, Claudia Timpson

Creative Director, Dominic Fitch

Programme Director, Bonnie Austin

Rupert Pennant-Rea(chair), Chairman of Henderson Group and Chairman of The Economist; formerly editor of The Economist and Deputy Governor of the Bank of England, and Chair of SSF since 2001.

Dame Jenny Abramsky, Chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund, the University of London Board of Trustees, and of Hampstead Theatre; and Governor of the Royal Ballet; formerly Director of Audio & Music at the BBC.

Andrew Jackson, founding partner of Stanton Marris, organisation consultants working at senior levels in strategy and leadership, with wide experience of government and the education sector.

Neil Mendoza, founder of Forward, a publishing company. Director of a variety of companies in the technology and media sectors. Served on the board of the Almeida Theatre and now on the board of the Soho Theatre.

Suzanna Taverne, member of the BBC Trust. Broad non-executive and executive board experience across the private and public sector including former Managing Director of The British Museum and Pearsons Plc. Currently on the board of the Design Museum and formerly on the board of Gingerbread.

Belinda Harley, writer and consultant, and experienced fund-raiser. Books include cookbooks on Harry's Bar and Annabels, and Mad About the Dog, a short memoir of life on Paxos. She is currently writing a book on the food, cooking and culture of Paxos for Hardie Grant.

Ambassador and former Trustee Sir Malcolm Field, formerly Chief Executive of WHSmith; non executive director of a number of quoted companies and more recently appointments in the public sector; served on the boards of the Royal College of Art and the English National Ballet School and currently President of the Devon Garden Trust.

Patrons[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "About Us | Shakespeare Schools Festival". web.archive.org. Retrieved 2014-05-27. 
  2. ^ "SSF for Primary Schools | Shakespeare Schools Festival". web.archive.org. Retrieved 2014-05-27. 
  3. ^ http://www.ssf.uk.com/international/registration
  4. ^ "Our Partners | Shakespeare Schools Festival". web.archive.org. Retrieved 2014-05-27. 
  5. ^ "Telereal Trillium - Case study: Shakespeare Schools". web.archive.org. Retrieved 2014-05-27. 
  6. ^ "BBC News - Shakespeare schools cash means all the world's a stage". bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 2014-05-27. 
  7. ^ "History of the Shakespeare Schools Festival | Shakespeare Schools Festival". web.archive.org. Retrieved 2014-05-27. 
  8. ^ "Shop | Shakespeare Schools Festival". web.archive.org. Retrieved 2014-05-27. 
  9. ^ "Most people performing Shakespeare on a single day". guinnessworldrecords.com. Retrieved 2014-05-27. 
  10. ^ "Pens - 30 Pack | Shakespeare Schools Festival". ssf.uk.com. Retrieved 2014-05-27. 
  11. ^ "BBC - Press Office - BBC launches Off By Heart Shakespeare". bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 2014-05-27. 
  12. ^ "British Museum - Page not found". britishmuseum.org. Retrieved 2014-05-27. 

External links[edit]