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Actor fell in love in English class

Chuk Iwuji, the Shakespearian actor, remembers the moment when he fell in love with the Bard. Shakespeare first came to life during English lessons taken by Ms Brewis at Caterham boarding school in Surrey.

"One of my most vivid memories of school was doing Antony and Cleopatra in her A-level class," said Mr Iwuji, who is starring as lead in Henry VI, parts I, II and III for the Royal Shakespeare Company.

"She pushed the chairs back and got us up performing it with passion. It brought the play to life for me. It became incredibly exciting."

Mr Iwuji, who left Caterham in 1993 to study at Yale and Wisconsin in the United States before returning to the UK to work professionally, has a long list of acting credits. Apart from appearances in the BBC's Casualty and Slave Trader, the 31-year-old has trodden the boards in RSC productions of Coriolanus, The Merry Wives of Windsor, Hamlet and Julius Caesar.

But the actor said this week that without inspirational portrayal of Shakespeare at school, many children will never be able to follow in his footsteps.

"While in America we visited some schools and tried to get the children to take part in a few scenes from Romeo and Juliet," he said.

"Many of them seemed uninterested until you got them up, performing the balcony scene for themselves. Sulky teenagers with hormones going nuts got up there and did the most electric Romeo and Juliet you can imagine.

"We have got to get out of this idea that Shakespeare belongs to a certain class or a certain type of people and allow all children to explore it for themselves."

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