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Shakespeare at the Globe goes global

Children all over the globe may have the chance to influence a Shakespeare production next season - at the Globe Theatre in Southwark.

Under the "adopt an actor" scheme, schools will contact - by post and e-mail - cast members from As You Like It and The Merchant of Venice. They will discuss their particular actor's character and may suggest interpretations - especially challenging in the case of the contentious Merchant.

According to a survey of 1,000 teachers carried out by Globe Education, almost 90 per cent think the play should be taught. However, nearly 40 per cent think it anti-semitic, or are unsure. Many of the teachers - most of them in the UK - are members of the Globelink scheme, an international network of colleges and schools. Respondents also came from the USA, Europe, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Switzerland, and Austria.

Globe Education is also involving 30 Southwark schools in a project based on The Merchant of Venice. They will work on sections of the play to be performed on the Globe stage.

Irene Bishop, head of St Saviour's and St Olave's School, one of those in the project, said: "Although there are anti-semitic elements in the play, I believe Shakespeare is ultimately anti-racist. It is important to discuss these ideas in an area of south London where the British National Party has a strong presence".

Sue de Botton, deputy head of the independent Jewish Akiva School in north London, said that her school would work with the Southwark ones. "I do feel uneasy about the play, especially the enforced conversion of Shylock to Christianity, but I wouldn't say that it shouldn't be performed".

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