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New production to introduce youngsters to the Bard

Jacqui O’Hanlon, RSC Director of Education
Jacqui O’Hanlon, RSC Director of Education

The RSC are hoping to introduce more young people to Shakespeare with a special production of The Tempest aimed at 8-13 year-olds next year.

The First Encounters with Shakespeare production will go on stage in Stratford before playing in schools and theatres in York, Stoke-on-Trent, Cornwall, Blackpool, Newcastle Northampton and London.

Directed by Aileen Gonsalves, the production will open in January in Midlands schools and the Swan Theatre in Stratford, before embarking on a seven week UK tour.

Aileen is artistic director at the Butterfly Theatre, a company which specialises in site responsive productions of Shakespeare across the UK and Europe.

Aileen Gonsalves said: “We are interested in exploring and immersing the audience in the magic of the island that the characters are stranded on. The strange creature Caliban confides, “The isle is full of noises.” We want our young audience to help us create this enchanted place, bringing their own homemade instruments and joining in the singing with the 8 strong cast, as they fight for power under the control of the all mighty Prospero. His daughter Miranda, and the exquisitely “delicate” spirit Ariel show that only love can set them all free. The actors will respond uniquely to each new audience, who will use whatever is at their disposal – their voices, bodies, imaginations and each other - to join with us to create this unique “rough magic” version of Shakespeare’s most funny, touching and fantastical tale.”

Using Shakespeare’s original language, this edited version lasts 90 minutes, and includes an interactive introduction to the world of the play.

Jacqui O’Hanlon, RSC Director of Education, said: “Many of us have our first encounter with Shakespeare at school, an experience which can define our attitude to live theatre and to Shakespeare for all of our lives. This tour of The Tempest will bring the excitement and wonder of Shakespeare’s work right into the heart of schools, regional theatres and local communities. Our First Encounters with Shakespeare tour is testament to the profound impact that partnerships between schools and theatres can have on the life chances of students - partnerships forged out of a shared vision for education in which access to the arts plays a central part."

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