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Shake Up Shakespeare in Schools

Updated: Nov 16, 2021

Hello everyone and welcome back to the blog! May I say, you're looking particularly fetching today. Is that a new jacket? It is, isn't it?

Anyway, Three Left Feet have some big ol' plans in the works...

We have started a crowdfunder (check it out here) to raise £5000 for a pilot scheme where we will collaborate with students from Lancashire schools to produce Shakespeare productions on their terms. You see, we have noticed a problem, a BIG problem and we need your help to solve it.

What's the Problem?

I'm glad you asked.

The government is suffocating our children’s creativity.

Arts funding has been slashed in schools and GCSE and A-Level Drama uptake is at an all-time low.

A 2018 BBC survey recorded: "nine in every 10 [responding schools] cut back on lesson time, staff or facilities in at least one creative arts subject".

One Lancashire drama teacher said that in 2019/20 she had no GCSE drama uptake for the first time in 16 years and in 2021 they were forced to cancel A-Level drama entirely.

Did you know that drama is not even on the secondary school curriculum?

Every child, regardless of financial background, deserves access to theatre and we want to help.

While summer short courses, youth theatres and amdram clubs are all excellent initiatives, to many, their cost is insurmountable. This exclusivity re-establishes the damaging narrative that the arts - and theatre specifically - are only for those who can afford it. These experiences should be provided in school as standard.

Furthermore, budding theatre-makers are warned not to follow their love for the arts. Children are told these careers are unviable, unstable, impossible; a damaging attitude which too often becomes true for those from lower socio-economic backgrounds or who identify as part of the global majority.

(<--- the government @ the arts)

What does this mean for the industry? A huge and pervasive lack of representation and a missing generation of new artists.

Something needs to change.

We believe the problem must be addressed at its root: access to the arts at school.

Our Solution

Long term, we want to build a network of Lancashire schools who we will work closely with, year after year, to provide exciting theatrical engagement opportunities both working in the schools themselves, and inviting those schools to our external productions.

We are asking for your help to fund a pilot for this scheme. To begin with, we will work very closely with one school in Lancashire to stage a Shakespeare play with a group of their Year 9 pupils.

Over the course of one term, we will collaborate with the students to design, rehearse, direct, market and perform their very own production as though they are a proper theatre company (like us!). They will have the opportunity to engage with many aspects of the theatre that are often overlooked such as publicity, costume, or lighting design.

The term will culminate in a public performance to their school, friends and families.

Through this project, we hope to change the students’ perception of Shakespeare from something stuffy and old to something malleable and exciting.

For better or for worse, Shakespeare is a key part of the British literary canon and something most pupils must tackle as part of their English lessons. There is no better way to get to grips with the bard than to take the words off the page and put them on their (three left) feet!

We want to create a deep, meaningful difference with a smaller number of children. Over time we hope to work with an ever-broadening pool of schools and students, but to begin with, we think quality over quantity is what will make the real difference to young people’s engagement with theatre, the arts and their own creativity.

Equally, we want to establish long-term, supportive relationships with the schools we go into. We aim to return to these schools year after year to work with their students, as well as welcoming additional schools into our repertoire.

We need to raise £5000. This will fund our work in the first Lancashire school. If we don't reach our goal, the funds raised will be reserved for this project and we will seek match funding to meet the £5000 and deliver this much-needed work!

If you can't spare the cash, please share our campaign! Help us to make some noise about this problem and we will be a step further to making significant change for these school kids.

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