Shakespeare for kids

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After opening with two shows at Our Lady of the Assumption Catholic Primary School, The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) are bringing The Tempest to The Grand Theatre, today.

The production is part of the First Encounters with Shakespeare series, aimed at introducing children between the ages of eight and 13 to Shakespeare.

The first Shakespeare I saw was an RSC production of Macbeth at the Barbican in with Hugh Quarshie as Banquo

It is directed by Aileen Gonsalves, who got into Shakespeare at a similar age herself.

She said: “I was in a Shakespeare play before I saw one. I was 13 and I was Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which I loved.

“The first Shakespeare I saw was an RSC production of Macbeth at the Barbican in with Hugh Quarshie as Banquo.

“We were about 15 and what was interesting for me was that Hugh was black, and I’m not white. I think I’d thought theatre was something I couldn’t be part of, but seeing Hugh in that show made me realise I could.”

The RSC will put on five shows at the Grand; 10.15am and 2pm today, 2pm and 7pm tomorrow, and 2pm on Saturday.

The production will run at around 90 minutes, edited down from the original play in order to suit a younger audience. Aileen said that children who come to the show will also be contributing in a hands-on way.

She added: “The young people will create the storm at the beginning of the play, with Prospero conducting them.

“There are a lot of sounds they can make using their bodies, such as rubbing their hands together, clicking their fingers, that kind of thing. I’ve been trying it out in workshops and it really works.

“And what’s fun about that is that as soon as the play starts they’ll be right in the centre of it. We’ll go through all the noises they need to make in an introduction just before the show starts. We’ll treat them like actors, because we need them to make the show.

“I think it really makes them feel part of the production if we say we can’t make it without them.

“And we’ll include them at other moments too. We’ll teach them a song, and we’ve had an idea that different sections of the audience will be different spirits.”

Tickets are priced at £12 for adults and £8 for under 18s. To book, call 01253 290190 or visit www.blackpoolgrand.co.uk.