Knowsley embraces our Season of Infinite Variety

How schools in the North West are making Shakespeare their own...

A Midsummer Night’s Dream performed with a social media twist – think pop-up alerts and hashtag hand gestures, a Macbeth that rocked a Peaky Blinders meets horror film vibe with flat caps and white witches in blood-spattered aprons, a Twelfth Night where the cast partied Gangnam Style… These are just some of the highlights from Shakespeare Schools Festival in Knowsley in 2019.

Children were deservedly proud of how they had put their own stamp on Shakespeare. As part of the training we deliver, we encourage our teachers to ‘banish the Shakespeare police’ - an imperious figure who dictates that Shakespeare must be performed in a certain way. Instead, we invite our casts to unleash their creativity, making the text their own and working like professional actors to shape their performance through a rehearsal room approach. 

Our schools in Knowsley most definitely rose to the challenge. One performer from All Saints Catholic College told us, “I loved playing the part of Bottom. One of the cast pointed out that my mask looks like Donkey from Shrek. So I was inspired to sing a solo of the song ‘I like big butts and I cannot lie’ as an homage. The audience loved it!”

All Saints Catholic High School gave their show a social media twist

As well as giving free rein to their creativity, many children told us how the experience has helped boost their confidence.

One performer told us, “I used to have everything pushed down into this little bottle and now I can just take the lid off it and speak out.”

Another of her castmates told us, “I feel like I come alive on stage. I never knew I had it in me to do that.”

The performances took place in at Knowsley Culture and Leisure Park 18th-22nd November, with 15 schools from across the region taking part - as part of more than 750 schools all around the UK during Shakespeare Schools Festival 2019.

A colourful retelling of The Tempest from St Joseph The Worker

On the night of All Saints’ big performance, Headteacher Tony McGuiness told us, “Shakespeare Schools Festival gives our students the opportunity to express themselves. The arts are incredibly empowering for our young people, and an important part of school life. We also love seeing other schools perform as part of the Festival - it’s an opportunity for everyone to celebrate their uniqueness.”

As a charity, we are thrilled to be working so closely with schools in Knowsley. We can’t wait to be back next year!

Performers from Saints Peter and Paul Roman Catholic Primary School

Coram SSF is a cultural education charity that exists to instil curiosity and empathy, aspiration and self-esteem, literacy and teamwork - giving young people the confidence to see that all the world is their stage.

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