Here’s the recipe.
Take William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and a filleting knife. Cut away any material that can be possibly regarded as fat, leaving a lean narrative, anything remotely repetitive should be cut out and thrown away, retain a hint of poetry for the purposes of flavour.
Next, take approximately 230 Year 8 students, divide them into X Band and Y Band, divide each band into five mixed ability classes, place each class in a room with the text and add a teacher of English, simmer occasionally for half a term.
When the students have absorbed the text, allocate an act to each class in X Band and repeat with Y Band. Ask the teachers to place one student in each roles, with two students to each of the biggest roles (you may have to butter up some of the students first).
Place a cold flannel on your forehead, carefully reading the school’s two week timetable arrange rehearsals with every class five times, ensuring your assistant director only has to attend school on 20 days, avoid teaching any class when they are due to be taught in the schools Learning Resource Centre (library).
Make puppets by sticking cardboard eyes to mops, brooms and other household items, fix coat hangers to the objects and drape them in costumes. Mix the students with the puppets, try and remove the scripts from the stew. Turn up the heat and keep stirring even if you feel you should stand well clear.
After four rehearsals you should see signs of standards rising: some students will have let go of their script, some will remember when to go on, where to stand and when to come off, some will speak loud and clear enough to be heard, some will show signs they understand what they are saying, some will start to use gesture or inflection in their voices; encourage all of these developments by sprinkling in praise, encouragement and advice.
There are public performances of Saltley Academy’s Year 8 production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream at New Place, Stratford-upon-Avon on 6 & 7 July at 10:00. If you wish to see the production in school on 3 or 4 July at 13:35 this can be arranged if you send us a message to that effect (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Cue further extension of the metaphor – wanting seconds, rich and fruity, flat and stale, turning your stomach Etc. to fade.