Romeo and Juliet fall in love whilst flossing to David Bowie in Manorfield's 2019 Shakespeare schools festival performance
Primary school students’ updated Shakespeare show for 400-strong audience sees culmination of two months ‘commitment, teamwork and creativity’
Colour-coded Capulets and flossing star-crossed lovers were just some of the contemporary twists Manorfield Primary School gave to Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet during their performance as part of the 2019 Shakespeare Schools Festival at the 400-plus capacity Greenwich Theatre on October 29th.
The Tower Hamlets school marked its 4th successive year’s participation with the festival, which sees 750 schools take to 118 professional stages around the UK and has been praised by Children’s Laureate Jaqueline Wilson for its fostering of ‘confidence and creativity’ in children.
Manorfield Primary’s final performance was the culmination of ‘eight very intense weeks of hard work, rehearsals, workshops, costume making and amazing team work’, according to the school’s KS2 English Leader, Jane Garner. The process involved students improvising movement, dance and mime to help retell the famous story for an audience, and the beginning of September saw 25 ‘committed and enthusiastic’ Year 5 and 6 students, supported by three teacher directors, begin their adaptation in earnest in preparation for the big night.
The SSF Festival uses ‘the unique power of Shakespeare’ to unite and transform the lives of school pupils across the UK, aiming to provide ‘a unique cultural and creative experience to young people from disadvantaged backgrounds’. The festival’s 2018 Impact Report saw 98% of teachers from participating schools record that their students were more confident as a result of the process, whilst 82% reported an improvement in academic attainment.
‘It was so good to see children learning new skills and gaining in confidence’, said Ms Garner of this years’ process.
Rennah, a Year 5 pupil from Manorfield, confirmed how it had boosted her confidence: ‘I didn’t want to act, but I loved being the narrator and I still felt part of the performance’. Riham, who played Manorfield’s Juliet, said it was ‘the best play [the school] has done’, whilst classmate Morayo explained how the school’s portrayal of Romeo and Juliet doing the floss dance – a dance craze started last year on the internet – to David Bowie’s ‘Let’s Dance’ had everyone in the audience laughing.
‘All the teachers were incredibly proud and impressed by the commitment, teamwork and creativity shown by the whole cast over such a short time period,’ said Ms Garner, who has already signed Manorfield up for their next performance: ‘Roll on next year!’
For more information on the Shakespeare Schools Festival, visit: https://www.shakespeareschools.org
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