I wake at 5.55am but purposefully take time to contemplate the day ahead before getting up. As a freelance drama practitioner, my work involves a wide range of teaching practice; one of my favourite hats is as a learning consultant for Globe Education at Shakespeare’s Globe.
For the past four weeks, I have been working in a London primary school on a project for 5 to 6-year-olds called Children are Storytellers, based on the The Winter’s Tale. The sessions use role play, puppetry, image, language and text work to explore Shakespeare’s stories and help to deliver key stage 1 curriculum learning objectives. The project also gives teachers strategies that they can use to investigate and deliver Shakespeare’s plays themselves.
My rush-hour commute across London is rewarded when I walk into school and am greeted by children excitedly shouting my name. The day begins with a briefing with the lead teacher, discussing developments from the previous week and running through the day ahead. I outline the session, the themes and objectives, and assign roles and moments of delivery for the teachers. My props bag is an essential resource; I choose a beautiful blue shawl for Lord Camillo, crowns, and a small singing bowl, which I use to signify transitions.
In previous sessions, we have explored jealousy and its consequences. Today’s themes are love, disguise and the passing of time. One exercise asks the children what they might be doing in 16 years’ time, which brings an array of responses, including from one 6-year-old: “I will be drinking wine!”
Just after 4pm, I arrive at Shakespeare’s Globe for a CPD session for teachers. The session is part of a project that designs a production for teenagers and introduces the teachers to a range of Globe practices that they can use to support their work.
We begin with an introduction to the theatre space. As we only have 20 minutes, I use an idea developed by the theatre practitioner Keith Johnstone, asking the teachers what they see, what they notice and what they wonder about the Globe Theatre space. This allows them to lead.
The practical work takes place in a rehearsal room and before we start, there are palpable nerves. As an actor, I really understand that tension, and start activities gently. We play some ice-breaker games. Once they begin to relax, we can have fun with the text. The teachers find it amusing, having sculpted each other into depictions of Malvolio, watching fellow participants prancing around the room as this character with a hugely inflated opinion of himself.
By 8pm we are all on a high, but ready to head home. Outside, the working day is over, but the area is still buzzing. When Sam Wanamaker first mooted rebuilding The Globe, this was a forgotten part of London. In the 18 years since it opened, it has played a leading role in the regeneration of Bankside. In 2016, the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, I feel privileged to spend my time in this special theatre exploring his work with inspiring students and teachers.
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