RSC: how you’ve grown  

You can’t stand still in this life – and the Royal Shakespeare Company is testament to that. No longer can this vast company be placed in the basket marked ‘niche’, it is now a big, friendly giant that is more than living up to its ethos of educating, innovating, ‘connecting people with Shakespeare’ and supporting ‘bold, ambitious work with living writers, actors and artists’. Following on the success and breadth of the 50th birthday celebrations last year, the company is leading the charge with the World Shakespeare Festival for the Cultural Olympiad, spearheading the Globe to Globe season as well as enjoying the success of its much-celebrated Matilda, which has just won seven Olivier Awards.
With Gregory Doran taking the helm from September this is a popular choice. The actor turned director said of his appointment: ‘My first task is to assemble an exciting new artistic team, with whom I shall start planning the Company’s future from 2014.’
Until then, there is a dazzling, busy schedule, including one you can pop in your diaries. Turn to July 2 and write I, Cinna (The Poet), a new play written and directed by Tim Crouch which will be streamed exclusively to schools around the UK. It will be followed by a live question and answer session with Tim Crouch and Jude Owusu, the actor playing Cinna.
Tim, who has written an acclaimed series of monologues, said: ‘I, Cinna (The Poet) gives voice to Shakespeare’s unluckiest man. Cinna speaks less than 20 lines in Julius Caesar before being mistaken for the wrong person and torn to pieces by the mob.
‘Now he gets a chance to speak for himself, to speak for his poetry and to a world that shows little interest in the minor characters.’
During the performance, Cinna will invite students to write poems with him. These can be reworked later, and sent to the RSC. To take part, register your interest through the company’s website.
This is just one of the innovations in the education arena and makes the best of the new technology, as its latest offer to teachers demonstrates. Its new Teaching Shakespeare tool – created with the University of Warwick – is a comprehensive professional development programme giving teachers access to the best RSC resources as well as the chance to gain a post-graduate award.
It combines the RSC’s creative expertise with the University’s world-leading teaching practice to give teachers unique access to the theatre company’s approach to teaching Shakespeare inspired by rehearsal room practice.
Firstly, teachers can use RSC films and accompanying materials, including the RSC Shakespeare Toolkit for Teachers, as a stand-alone set of resources. Secondly, the learning platform offers a qualification route for teachers combining academic study, practical classroom tasks, assessed teaching assignments and connections to a community of tutors and fellow students. This course includes formal assessment of work and leads to a Post Graduate Award in the Teaching of
Shakespeare. The graduate-level programme offers a route to achieve an MA in the Advanced Teaching of Shakespeare.
Highlights include a film showing education specialists, Rachel Gartside (RSC), Professor Jonothan Neelands (University of Warwick) and world-renowned Shakespeare scholar James Shapiro, introducing UK and US students to Romeo and Juliet. There are also podcasts and interviews with RSC artists and directors as well as a range of specialist academics and teachers, for example, the RSC’s Voice Director Cicely Berry, actor David Oyelowo and directors Rupert Goold, Roxana Silbert and Michael Boyd who share some of their working practices.
The RSC’s Director of Education Jacqui O’Hanlon said: ‘Fifty per cent of schoolchildren in the world study Shakespeare. We believe that young people get the most out of Shakespeare’s plays when they approach them in the way that RSC actors do: on their feet, actively exploring the text and unlocking its meaning. Teaching Shakespeare brings together an astonishing range of voices, experiences and insights from the worlds of professional theatre and education that explore the impact
of these kinds of approaches on actors and students alike.’
There will be a charge for the courses and resources and any profit will be ploughed back into the RSC’s education programmes and used to support the charitable purposes of both the RSC and University of Warwick. Teachers’ pets can register this minute by going on the information superhighway at The first set of courses and resources will be available in October.