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Southwark area groups and schools come together to perform at Shakespeare’s Globe

As a part of Shakespeare’s Globe annual Our Theatre project, schoolchildren from St. Thomas the Apostle, Harris Girls’, and Tuke School (for students with special  educational needs) joined the Southwark Youth Theatre and Elders Company for a production of Shakespeare’s Henry V, writes Hillary Chaisson…

Our Theatre has ran annually for numerous years, becoming a staple for Shakespeare Globe’s educational services. Last year’s Our Theatre production was As You Like It.

“The aim of‘Our Theatre is to encourage the development in communication skills and self-esteem for both children and adults within the Southwark area,” the Globe’s press and pr officer, Phoebe Coleman, said.

Lily, a Year 7 student from Harris Girls’ Academy, noticed the remarkable difference that being a part of the Our Theatre program has done for her confidence: “This performance has made me more confident.

“It has made me more focused in school and has given me something to concentrate on when I go home at the end of the day.

“I loved sharing this experience with all the people from the Globe who helped us,” Lily said.

In addition to boosting confidence, the Globe’s Our Theatre program provides group leaders with Continuing Professional Development Training (CPD) so that they can continue learning in their career. This aspect is supported by the Harris Foundation for Lifelong Learning.

“Our Theatre is an opportunity for local Southwark-based groups to work directly with our specialist Globe Education Practitioners on a Shakespeare play, and for group leaders to access CPD training.

“Also, Our Theatre takes Shakespeare in to other Southwark venues as each group performs onsite with us and then puts on a production in their own venues,” Phoebe said.

The Our Theatre program runs for fifteen weeks each year with rehearsals starting in February.

As a part of Our Theatre, there were two performances of Henry V put on by the group in the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse.

To prepare for these performances, the groups prepared separately for fourteen weeks, under the guidance of an education director from the Globe, before comining together.

When it came to characters within the play, Josiah from St. Thomas the Apostle school was particularly fond of his role: “One of the characters I’m playing is Bardolph, and he’s definitely my favourite because the other characters think he’s the boss, a bit of a madman!”

“The project has been really fun, it’s something interesting to do outside of lessons. Doing drama means you can express yourself in different ways. I’m happy we got to do it with Mr Anderson because he’s a really nice teacher and the rehearsals are nice because they bring everyone together,” he said.

Marcie from Harris’ Girls Academy added to the point of being able to express oneself differently through drama and said: ““I really liked the whole atmosphere of the play and the story.

“As girls, it’s nice to play boys’ parts so this has been a great opportunity to do that.”

“The best thing about Our Theatre was getting together with everyone. The cast is like a family: we argued with each other, we have our ups and downs, we succeed together. Doing the play has helped with my writing in lessons too,” Nnaemeka, a Year 7 student from St. Thomas the Apostle school said.

Groups and schools of all ages and grades are welcome to apply to be a part of the Our Theatre program each year. Elders Company actress Eileen Shepherd noted the impact that joining a theatre can have.

“Performing in a group gives you a sense of togetherness.

“You can get so much out of performing as part of an ensemble, even if you only have a small part,” she said.

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