Billesley Primary School and the R.S.C.
In 2015 Billesley pupils worked with architect Yinka Danmole to design a slot together stage that coud be put up, performed on, taken down, moved, put up somewhere else, be performed on. We and the school were keen to use the theatre again this year and to take a show out of the school environment into the wider world, to show the kind of work that Billesley pupils get up to. With the theatre having spent last summer outside the RSC and 2016 being the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, a show related to the great man, with a high profile performance in Stratford seemed to be the perfect idea.
With a cast of 60 Year Five children and an outdoor performance we decided to do a fast moving, colourful show with no dialogue, designed to be easy for the performers to learn in a short space of time and eye catching for a non-captive outdoor audience. We split the children into 6 groups each with a ten minute performance. One group had the introduction telling the story of Shakespeare’s life, the others took on fast paced versions of Hamlet, Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Henry V. Each team had a narrator, everyone else ran on and off stage playing multiple roles and trying to hold the right prop and have the right hat on. The aesthetic was inspired by our popular touring show The Cardinals.
We did our first performance on a hot sunny afternoon in the school playground for parents and Year 4. It was a funny, chaotic success. The following week with the theatre having been moved to the terrace outside the RSC, the children got the bus down to Stratford. The RSC very kindly laid on toursof The Other Place and trips up the tower for them and then after a sunny picnic lunch they took to the stage. It was messy and chaotic again just as it was designed to be and the children’s energetic performances captured them a discerning Stratford audience. We were very lucky once again to have live musicians to work with us. We first worked with Luke Deane and Christine Cornwell on our other big Billesley show Any Fool Can Start A War and it was great to have their musical skills and patience again for this project.
Performed by: The children of Year 5, 2015/16
Written and directed by Craig Stephens
Music written and performed by Christine Cornwell and Luke Deane
Costumes by Kay Wilton
Photographs by Graeme Braidwood
Great fun watching @BPrimary in Stratford todayDen Stanton – Twitter