Year 9 pupils at our school learned dramatic fighting techniques in preparation for a mini-Shakespeare festival. When Education Bradford key stage 3 co-ordinator Michael Garside and Abigail Lear, KS3 literacy consultant for Calderdale, planned to repeat last year's Regional Shakespeare Celebration on a smaller scale, I decided to stage Macbeth.
Teachers from participating schools attended a workshop by the Royal Shakespeare Company in our theatre. The schools also had a workshop with theatre in education company Dramarama on their chosen plays. All the plays in the festival were based on the 30-minute BBC Animated Tales, abridged by Leon Garfield.
Our workshop concentrated on fight scenes for the opening battle and the final fight between Macbeth and Macduff. I wanted the entire cast on stage for the whole play for maximum involvement. We aimed the project at Year 9 students who had an interest in drama. So many wanted to be involved that I decided to use everyone rather than turn people away. I felt that their enthusiasm should be rewarded. It was also pleasing to see a full academic ability range represented among those who turned up.
We have established a strong tradition of performance in a short time at our school. Over the past few years we have always tried to perform to the whole of Year 9 the extracts used for the English SAT. The results have been very pleasing for all concerned, especially for the performers. We rehearsed most lunchtimes and often after school for our performance at the Priestley Theatre in Bradford.
Director, Parkside Arts College, Bradford
Dramarama Tel: 0207 299 4341
Royal Shakespeare Company: www.rsc.org.uklearning9.asp