Shakespeare in schools

Aim of the workshops:

To demystify the complexities surrounding Shakespeare.
To truly engage pupils in key stages 3, 4 and 5 in a highly interactive way and enable them to come to grips with the new form of GCSE and GCE assessment in English Literature and Language.
Understand what is expected at the various levels/bands and help achieve A* (We have ensured that we are very well acquainted with the syllabus and exam requirements for Edexcel, AQA, OCR, WJEC and Cambridge IGCSE examining boards).

How do the workshops work?

The workshops employ forum theatre, hot-seating and role-play with a team of FocalVocal actors, plus a facilitator such as Monica (Edexcel examiner 983818) who is or has worked as a teacher/examiner.
The actors include RSC members and English graduates.
The Shakespeare texts we currently cover are:
Romeo and Juliet.
Much Ado About Nothing.
The Merchant of Venice.
Julius Caesar.
Twelfth Night.
Richard III.
The Tempest.
King Lear.
The forum theatre session will involve pupils first of all getting to see the scene performed and staged incorrectly, normally in a humorous manner.
The pupils are divided into two teams, each supporting one or two actors.
The respective teams are asked to direct their actors in such a manner until both are happy with the final performance.
The forum theatre process will include the pupils hot-seating with the actors; asking questions about themes, relationships and characterisation; analysing language used; directing the actors; and, if they feel confident, even role-playing with them!
At the end of the forum theatre session pupils are divided into smaller groups and placed onto a carousel where they explore with the actors and facilitator characterisation, themes, relationships, stage craft and analysis of language used in greater depth.
It is hoped that such a highly participative and entertaining way of presenting Shakespearean texts, will truly enable pupils to engage with the very issues they in turn have to write about in their GCSE and GCE exam and coursework.

How long is the workshop?

According to the number of students a school would like to train, we offer three options:

Option One: One forum theatre session of one hour and a half covering two scenes of the school’s choice taken from a list of options FocalVocal provides at time of booking. Training up to 60 pupils.
Option Two: Half a day. Two forum theatre sessions of one hour and a half each, covering two or four scenes of the school’s choice taken from a list of options FocalVocal provides at time of booking. Training up to 60 or 120 pupils.
Option Three: Whole day. Three forum theatre sessions of one hour and a half each, covering two, four or six scenes of the school’s choice taken from a list of options FocalVocal provides at time of booking. Training up to 60 or 180 pupils.

It is possible to train more than 60 pupils over a session, a whole year is possible however, in depth work with actors, in small groups, is subsequently reduced.

When, where and to whom do we offer these workshops?

One full day revision workshops during Easter and Summer Holidays for individual students, up to 60, at a venue in Central London.
At your school during term time, at present we are working with schools in inner, outer London and fringe.
Pupils in Key Stages 3, 4 and 5. Please note workshops for GCE students are normally for up to 20 students.

The Shakespeare in School workshop which was presented at the Purcell School was a lively and engaging event for all pupils from Year 9, 10 and 11. The event was organised meticulously and unobtrusively. Actors encouraged students to engage in discussion about the scenes concerned. It was a delight to see less confident pupils participating in a non-threatening atmosphere. Several commented later that the experience had made them feel comfortable about discussing character and thematic issues in a way which they would not normally do in the classroom.

Paul Elliott
Deputy Head Academic
The Purcell School

A sample of responses from Purcell School Children
Question: The most important outcome of the workshop for you was?

Understanding character complexities and thoughts and relationships with others more.
Great help for my GCSE preparation.
Learning about different perspectives.
I very much liked the acting that helped me a lot to understand.
The feelings of the characters. It really really helped and you changed the actions and movements according to the comments which made the scene viewable in many different perspectives.
It was really good. I really liked the Much Ado About Nothing Scene.
It was amazing and wish you stayed longer! Thank you!.
Understanding key scenes and poignant moments in the plays.
Understand the play even better than I did before but also look at other ways that one scene could be performed. Everything was excellent!.

Big thank you to Mr Andrew Leverton, Head of English at Purcell School of Music for believing in this workshop and giving us a substantial amount of his time to help us develop our ideas and become aware of what is demanded at GCSE to reach the higher tiers.

FocalVocal Shakespeare in Schools Rehearsal Shots-

Scenes from Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth and Much Ado About Nothing
Actors: Debbie Chazen, Gyuri Sarossy, Louise Mai Newberry and Mark Stevenson
Photography by Mark Davidson

For school bookings please contact
Tel: 0845 055 6301

Helping GCSE and GCE English Literature and Language students reach A*!

EVERY Shakespeare in Schools actor and facilitator has been verified and undergone a DBS check. Monica is also registered with the DFE.