Culture vulture

1st October 2004 at 01:00
Sharon Francis Burnett never goes to the theatre alone

Best book

I'm going to cheat and say the complete works of Shakespeare, because the plays and poems are so rich, so diverse and totally contemporary. Each play speaks to you today and it speaks to everybody.

Favourite film

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest has the same impact on me today as when I first saw it. It was one of the first films to question the American system. With what is happening there now, we could do with more films like it.

To share with pupils

The Edinburgh Fringe gives you such a wide experience. You don't have to perform there to appreciate what it has to offer. This summer we saw Steven Berkoff performing Edgar Allan Poe's scary portrait of dementia, A Tell-Tale Heart. It was challenging, but it held my students enthralled.

Berkoff's physicality and agility stunned them. The next day we watched a school production. Every day we were giving out leaflets for our own plays, watching street performers. It's fantastic.

Best on stage

I always take students to the theatre with me. Before Christmas we've lined up Lord of the Flies performed by Pilot Theatre Company (York); an off-the wall Richard III by Kaos Theatre Company (Huddersfield); A Passage to India (Nottingham); and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (Leeds). The most striking thing we've seen so far this term was Macbeth (pictured, Sidney Cole as Macduff) performed by the Out of Joint theatre company, a mostly black troupe, in the Red Brick Mill, Batley. It was like stepping into an African war zone; the sheer horror of the regime has never struck me so immediately.

Best resource

My own enthusiasm and love of theatre. We run a drama club and a drama summer school, we go to Stratford and put on musicals and plays every year.

I'm so besotted with it all that it rubs off on my kids.

Sharon Francis Burnett, 51, is head of drama at Campsmount technology college, near Doncaster. She was talking to Elaine Williams. Last summer her students performed a half-hour version of A Midsummer Night's Dream before the Prince of Wales in London as part of a showcase for the Shakespeare Schools Festival. In August they took the Dream and A Clockwork Orange to the Edinburgh Fringe to high acclaim

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