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13:45 16th June
13:45 and 19:00 17th June
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Saltley Academy and the R.S.C.
Our friends as Saltley Academy asked us to make a production of The Tempest with all 240 of their Year 8 students. Of course that was such an exciting prospect we couldn't turn it down and it seemed a good opportunity to use the slot together stage built in collaboration with Billesley Primary School last year. As the stage was to spend the summer outside the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon it made sense to stage The Tempest at school and then down there.
The challenges of staging the show were considerable. Director Lucy Nicholls wrote/edited a massively cut down version of the play with a chorus of narrators helping explain the action. We decided on twin productions, one staged by X-Band and one staged by Y-Band. Each band had five groups so each group took on an act. A consistency of costumes helped the audience keep on top of who was who when the actors changed.
A quick show of hands during rehearsal suggested that only three of the cast had ever acted on a stage before, so the project was mostly about EVERYONE getting the experience of standing up, being seen, acting and speaking in public. There were some great performances and the improvement in very many students was impressive.
Staging twin productions each with a cast of 120 amateur, inexperienced and often acutely self-conscious actors was hugely challenging but the school bent over backwards to absorb rehearsals into school life, teachers were hugely flexible about what we were asking of them and eventually X-Band and Y-Band performed their shows once in the school hall and once at the R.S.C., where they then had a tour of The Other Place, a trip up the tower, a packed lunch and an exploration of Shakespeare Steps.
Performed by Year 8, Saltley Academy
Adapted and directed by Lucy Nicholls Assistant director, Jack Trow With help from Sipho Eric Dube
Costumes by Kay Wilton Photographs by Graeme Braidwood Advice James Yarker With lots of help from lots of teachers and entirely impossible without Ms.Parker.