Between February–April 2019, the award-winning Guildford Shakespeare Company (GSC) and local Surrey arts charity Delight are helping 14 primary schools to create their own magical performances of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

The children, from 14 selected primary schools across Surrey, first enjoy a specially adapted interactive performance from four professional GSC actors. The performance – which uses narration, call and response and the ever-popular Shakespeare puppet, ‘Little Will’ – helps inspire and excite the children, introducing them to the story and Shakespeare’s work, usually for the first time. Children are invited to step up on stage to take on important roles within the performance, giving them a rare opportunity to play alongside the professional actors. Even teachers aren’t safe as each play ends with a member of staff playing a vital character.

The children LOVED the performance! They were all absolutely buzzing afterwards and have their favourite characters in mind for auditions’ Year 5 teacher

Over the following weeks, the actors return to the schools to work with children in Year 5 to create their own performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, through workshops and teacher-led activities. They tackle all aspects – from performing, to design, costumes, staging and marketing. Not only do they enjoy a fantastic first-hand experience of creating their own Shakespearean performance, but build their confidence, social skills, teamwork and engage better in learning. Additional resources reinforce classroom learning and all children achieve nationally accredited Arts Award ‘Discover’ level, further celebrating their creative achievements.

Delight in Dream’ marks the fourth year of the successful partnership between GSC and Delight, which has also encouraged 8-11-year-old children to discover Romeo and Juliet (in 2017) and Macbeth (2018). Over the three years of this trilogy, GSC and Delight have worked with 1,855 children and 62 teachers and they hope to work with 10 new schools in the coming years, repeating the trilogy for a brand-new group of children.

We are very proud to work with Delight and bring our productions to this young audience. For many of the children this will be the only theatre they’ve seen, and this is a unique opportunity for their schools to engage with Shakespeare on their doorstep.” says Ant Stones, GSC’s Head of Education. “Surrey is generally considered to be a prosperous county with a host of opportunities, but for many children this simply isn’t the case. We feel privileged to have worked with Delight over several years to level the playing field and allow children to watch, create and study multiple Shakespeare plays before they’ve reached secondary school. The children’s energy, enthusiasm and skill make each performance at fantastic experience.’

It is always so incredible to see the fantastic performances that the children create. The expertise that Guildford Shakespeare Company bring, coupled with the commitment from teachers and children alike means that each school puts on a truly spectacular performance for their local community. We can’t wait to see the magic that the children will bring to A Midsummer Night’s Dream this year.’ Delight CEO, Kathryn Mills

© Guildford Arts 2016

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