Schools from Birmingham join the Festival

 

"Sometimes I feel like I am carrying bags of rock on my shoulder. Doing drama takes the rocks away."

This is what 12-year-old Zara from Jewellery Quarter Academy, Birmingham told us as she waited backstage with her cast for their performance of Comedy of Errors in this year’s Shakespeare Schools Festival. As Zara’s words show, drama can play a crucial role for students in relieving stress and supporting well-being.

Jewellery Quarter Academy is one of three schools from the CORE Education Trust who were taking part in this year’s Festival for the very first time. Also joining them at the Old Rep on 4th November were City Academy Birmingham, performing Othello, and Nansen Primary School, performing Romeo and Juliet.

Greg Williams, Head Teacher of Jewellery Quarter Academy, explained why his school was keen to take part. He said: “We do everything we can to develop our students’ confidence. Our school is situated in one of the most deprived areas of the country. Many of our students won’t get opportunities like this outside of school. And so to perform a Shakespeare play at this prestigious theatre is an incredible achievement. I’ve seen them grow hugely in confidence and self-assuredness.”

Following the performance on 4th November, two students from Jewellery Quarter Academy were invited for an interview on BBC Radio WM, together with their drama teacher Aimee Bowen. They shared how they had given Shakespeare a modern twist, for example through a bustling market scene where goods on offer included lip glosses and iPhones. They also impressed radio presenters Sunny and Shay by delivering some lines from the play.

Teacher Aimee Bowen told us, “Taking part in the Festival has been brilliant for our students. I’m really proud of how they have grown in confidence, and how their focus in lessons has improved. We can’t wait to take part again next year!”

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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