Throughout March, 900 children and young people from 50 schools in 6 areas of the country (Cornwall, Hull, York, Middlesbrough, Birmingham and Southampton) told the story of three of Shakespeare’s greatest history plays; Henry IV parts I and II and Henry V in a national festival called ‘The Head that Wears a Crown’.
Seven schools in Middlesbrough were involved in a three year project with the ‘Royal Shakespeare Company’. The seven schools, led by Archibald Primary as the Hub-school, held their festival on the 10th March 2015. The schools involved were Acklam Grange School, Breckon Hill Primary, Macmillan Academy, Newport Primary, Priory Woods School and Sunnyside Academy. Over 100 pupils from the ages of 8 – 18 took part in the festival at the Acklam Green Centre.
All the schools involved in the Festival are part of a major education programme called the Learning and Performance Network (LPN). The LPN is the Royal Shakespeare Company’s long term partnership programme with regional theatre companies and schools across England. It was launched in 2006 and currently over 450 schools and 10 regional theatres across England have been involved.
In July this year, two pupils from each school visited Stratford -Upon -Avon to perform on the Royal Shakespeare Company’s main stage. This involved an overnight visit, rehearsal and then performing to an audience. This was an amazing opportunities for the pupils from Middlesbrough.
During an intense but extremely rewarding two days the pupils had the exciting opportunity to rehearse their scene with staff from the RSC including voice coaches that work alongside RSC actors.
Each school from the LPN network performed a scene from Henry IV. All pupils from the schools performed together on stage in the final shared scene. This was an amazing opportunities for all pupils involved and is an experience that they will treasure for many years to come. The Deputy Artistic Director was overwhelmed by the performance of the schools from the LPN Network and credited their achievement in her final speech.
This year, twelve schools in Middlesbrough will take part in a the RSC’s ‘Dream Team 2016’ project to study and perform ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ for its 400th year anniversary.