School pupils have Grand designs for Shakespeare Festival

Competition winner Katie Jones

Nine-year-old Katie Jones is celebrating this week. Her winning poster design will be on display outside the Blackpool Grand Theatre promoting the RSC, Blackpool and Fylde Associate Schools and The Grand Theatre production of Macbeth for the Regional Schools’ Shakespeare Festival.

The Grand Theatre has been working in partnership with the Royal Shakespeare Company and local schools for over 5 years to develop an appreciation of the works of Shakespeare. This year’s upcoming production is Macbeth and children from 18 associate schools have been involved in all aspects of the show, including the marketing.  All children were given the opportunity to enter a competition to design a poster for the upcoming show.

Katie Jones, aged 9, from Thames Primary Academy, designed the winning entry which will be displayed outside Victoria Street Starbucks until the final show on Thursday evening. Katie was delighted to have won the competition and is also looking forward to performing on The Grand stage alongside her peers. Over 400 local children will perform in 2 separate productions of Shakespeare’s Macbeth.

William Shakespeare is probably the most famous English playwright… ever. But many people of a certain age will tell you learning about him in school sent them to sleep (perchance to dream?). English literature teachers once struggled to foster a love of the Bard in young people that would endure throughout adult life. But times have changed and now ‘all the world’s a stage’. These days an appreciation of Shakespeare’s works is cultivated in the next generation through encouraging an active involvement in their learning.

The fundamental ambition of the Programme between The Grand Theatre and the RSC is to bring about a significant change in the way young people experience, engage with, and take ownership of the work of Shakespeare. The aim is to explore Shakespeare with students and teachers as actors do in a rehearsal room, using dynamic, active approaches.  The local school children will put on a one hour edit of Macbeth using original Shakespearian language and text.

Jo Cleasby, Blackpool Grand’s Creative Learning Producer, praised local teachers saying “We have the most amazing directors in Blackpool schools that also happen to be full time teachers. Without their dedication this whole programme would not be the success it is.”

RSC Director Mentor, Amy Draper, is knows that telling a story with so many cast members is a highly ambitious and challenging feat. She has worked alongside the associate schools’ dedicated teachers to ensure continuity throughout the performances.

It’s an exciting opportunity for the young cast members to work with a professional director in what is not just a fantastic regional festival but part of a national programme. Some cast will get the opportunity to visit Stratford upon Avon to be part of the national festival at the RSC in July.

So, book your tickets for this truly epic production and don’t forget to look out for Katie’s winning poster outside the theatre.

Macbeth runs Tuesday 6 and Thursday 8 March at Blackpool Grand Theatre. For more information or to book tickets visit blackpoolgrand.co.uk

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