The prestigious RSC, (the Royal Shakespeare Company) has been out and about and very active for the past eighteen months travelling as far as New York and the length and breadth of Great Britain.
The aim of the 44 strong touring company is to bring The bard back to the people and helping us understand and enjoy the wonderful writing of the most famous playwright in history.
Over a four day period one group of nine actors visited Newcastle, Berwick, Middlesbrough and Crook, selecting Crook Primary School as a venue to entertain, educate and enthral the children.
The format was easy; they acted out a 75 minute carefully truncated version of HAMLET, in the school gymnasium with minimalist props and costume, extemporising with musical instruments and modern costumery.
The children and teachers were placed cross-legged in a square on the floor in the centre of the gym, with pathways running between them and with the action taking place before them through them and around them.
The language used was that of the original Shakespeare, and no attempt was made to dumb down the speeches or the acting but to bring realism and the beauty of the English language.
The children sat engrossed with eyes opened wide, jumping with fright when loud drums banged, and laughing heartily at the comic moments and applauding the friends who were unwittingly drawn into the play.
They drank deeply from the cup of Shakespeare and enjoyed every moment of the 75 minutes of fun and culture, one innocent comment from one of the children summed the day up beautifully, he said to his teacher “wow miss that was better than the film we watched”.
After a quick change into their jeans and shirts and a cup of tea of course, the cast came back into the auditorium and gave a fascinating forty minute workshop on the play, giving a very appreciative audience of children and teachers, a quick guide on acting and how to interpret the words of hamlet. There was no shyness or embarrassed silences when the children were asked at the end of the workshop “does anyone have a question” a sea of hands shot up, and by appeasing them (with apologies to the bard) the question master was inundated with relevant and poignant enquiries.