Royal Shakespeare Company & CATA Launch YOUNG SHAKESPEARE NATION Education Program
The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) and The Prince's Foundation for Children and the Arts (CATA) are inviting all schools to join Young Shakespeare Nation, a new initiative to transform students' experiences of Shakespeare in school - and give them unprecedented access to every single one of his plays.
The launch comes as Government plans for all state educated children to study a minimum of two Shakespeare plays between the ages of 11 and 14 have been released, with some claiming that the new English curriculum lacks creativity and will 'stifle' teachers. However, research conducted by the University of Warwick on behalf of the RSC shows that using RSC Education's methods for teaching Shakespeare significantly improves pupils' attitudes to school and learning in general, as well as to Shakespeare. Teachers also reported improved self-esteem amongst students and a greater belief in their own abilities. Separate research carried out in the US by The Ohio State University suggests that a positive attitude to Shakespeare in students is predictive of higher test scores in English and Maths.
Young Shakespeare Nation (YSN) responds to this research and invites schools across the country to join the RSC and CATA on an inspirational journey through all Shakespeare's plays over the next six years. Driven by the RSC's commitment to stage each of the 36 plays in the First Folio between now and 2019, the initiative also forms part of the celebrations around the 450thanniversary of Shakespeare's birth in 2014 and the 400th anniversary of his death in 2016. Both organisations are committed to ensuring all young people, and particularly the most disadvantaged, are given access to the highest quality arts and culture.
Any school can get involved in Young Shakespeare Nation. Many have already opted to participate in the live broadcast element. Others like Honley School in West Yorkshire, are choosing to journey with us through each of the plays. Honley will work with 36 other local schools to stage 30 minute versions of all 36 plays in a grand festival in 2019. There are so many ways that schools can get involved in Young Shakespeare Nation including;
- Free performances streamed live into classrooms: the first takes place this November with Richard II played by David Tennant;
- Engaging educational resources: new online resources, ideas and opportunities to support learning will be released as each play opens on the RSC's stage;
- Live Theatre experiences: First Encounter touring productions for 8-13 year olds staged in Stratford-upon-Avon and around the UK, together with a wide range of other opportunities to see Shakespeare's plays in performance on tour and at our home in Stratford-upon-Avon;
- Online resource bank: including videos, images, teachers' packs and more;
- Professional development for teachers: including INSET days for teachers delivered at any school across the UK, and 1 - 5 day intensive courses delivered in Stratford-upon-Avon.
- New School Awards: schools can apply to become a Young Shakespeare Nation School and we'll be announcing the criteria for our new award in November;
- Plus events, workshops, seminars, and more;
The first opportunity for schools to be part of Young Shakespeare Nation is on 15 November 2013, when Richard II, directed by Artistic Director Gregory Doran and with David Tennant in the title role, is streamed live into classrooms across the country. Hosted by Konnie Huq, up to 1,000 secondary schools across the UK can watch the performance simultaneously and take part in a live Q&A afterwards with Gregory and David. For more information and to register for the broadcast, visit: http://onscreen.rsc.org.uk/education/default.aspx.
In February 2014 the First Encounter The Taming of the Shrew production will tour to schools and theatres around the UK. This is another way for young people and teachers to experience Shakespeare, this time, live in their local community. The distilled version of the original text includes both an introduction to the performance and a chance to hear from the actors.
Jacqui O'Hanlon, the RSC's Director of Education, explains further: "Over the years we've seen the transformative effect that our approaches to rehearsal and to the creation of performances can have on audiences and actors of all ages. We see the same transformations happening in classrooms when teachers use our tried and tested techniques. We shouldn't shy away from the fact that Shakespeare is challenging and that his work requires specific kinds of effort to unlock its meaning. It is precisely because of that that it is so rewarding, for students, actors and audiences alike. We want to share our ways of working with teachers and students and transform experiences of Shakespeare at school. As well as stimulating the imagination of learners of all ages, our research shows that there is a fundamental shift in a young person's view of themselves and their attitudes to learning when they are given the tools to unlock Shakespeare's words and work.