Spirit of Youth is a new intergenerational drama project from Guildford Shakespeare Company (GSC), tackling social isolation within their community.

The project will bring together children from Weyfield Primary School with the residents of the Queen Elizabeth Care Home, who met for the first time on Monday 17 September. Over the course of ten-weeks, the children will join the care-home residents to explore a Shakespeare play. Under GSC’s guidance they will work together to create a 15-20 minute version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which will be performed to family and friends.

Spirit of Youth will provide a unique opportunity for the young and old to form new bonds and relationships, as they work towards a common-goal. The participants will naturally share their own experiences and stories, as they convert Shakespeare’s words into their own. The residents and the children will all be able to challenge and enjoy themselves in a risk-free environment.

“It is easy to instantly see the benefits of diverse age groups working together.” Explains Sarah Gobran, GSC’s co-founder. “The elderly residents rarely get many visitors and relish watching the enthusiasm of the children; by helping them to read words that they might not have come across before, the older people have purpose again and are vital. Ultimately young children love attention and to talk, so they thrive from their captive audience within the care home.”

Spirit of Youth builds on the mission of Sprites, GSC’s after-school Drama Clubs. Held in local primary schools, the children explore a different Shakespeare play each term and use their imaginations to work as a team. The addition of GSC facilitators, as well as fun costumes and props help the group play together. If a child stays with the club for the full four years, they will go to secondary school having learnt as many as twelve of Shakespeare’s plays.

Sarah Gobran: “GSC has been running Drama Clubs for years. It suddenly became obvious that there was no reason not to run these classes within a residential care home. The supportive environment provides enriching experiences for them all and ensures that the elderly residents are more likely to stay actively involved, whereas they might withdraw if only amongst their own peer group.”

Spirit of Youth is part of Brave New World, GSC’s year-long programme of outreach projects, which seeks to reduce social isolation and assist disadvantaged schools and individuals across Surrey. Many of the projects are free-to-access pilot-programmes and GSC will be able to share their experiences with local authorities and charities to encourage further projects and continued provision in Surrey and across the UK.

Spirit of Youth has been made possible through the support of The Community Foundation for Surrey.

For more details about the Brave New World projects, visit the Outreach pages of the website (www.guildford-shakespeare-company.co.uk), or contact Ant Stones, GSC’s Head of Education, on 01483 301590, education@guildford-shakespeare-company.co.uk.

© Guildford Arts 2016

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