Pupils perform Shakespeare @ the Lyric

A chance for children to perform at a professional theatre

Fation Burrniku (Romeo) and Cydney Phillip (Juliet) with fellow cast members (left to right) Aaron Swift, Tyrone Musajjatakilwa, Karim Adan, Oyinkansola Ogundipe and Sandra Cvijanovic

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Pupils from the borough’s primary and secondary schools brought the Bard to life when they took to the Lyric Hammersmith stage for Shakespeare: Live! – a two-night celebration featuring three of his best-loved plays.

Shortened versions of Macbeth, Hamlet and Romeo & Juliet were performed on Wednesday and Thursday (17-18 November) by children who have been working with professional theatre company Dramarama.

All the plays have been staged at local schools earlier in the year but this was the first chance for children to perform them at a professional theatre. The audience comprised parents, headteachers and school staff, as well as local residents and guests from the council and the government’s Department for Education and Skills.

Shakespeare: Live! was jointly organised and produced by Dramarama and the council’s Excellence in Cities (EiC) team. EiC, which provided funding for the project, is part of a government scheme to address the particular challenges facing children and teachers in urban areas.

The schools taking part in Shakespeare: Live! were:
· Fulham Cross secondary school, in Fulham – performed Macbeth with an all-girl cast, starring Chekira Singleton-Holder as Lady Macbeth and Elisha Edwards as Macbeth
· Wendell Park Primary School, in Shepherds Bush – their acclaimed version of Romeo & Juliet was previously performed at the school and the National Portrait Gallery
· Summer Shakespeare Academy – a production of Hamlet, first performed in August by a cast of children from Henry Compton, Burlington Danes and Fulham Cross secondary schools and Melcombe, Fulham and Sir John Lillie primary schools, who were all taking part in the Dramarama/EiC Summer Shakespeare Academy at the London Oratory School theatre.

Phillip Gates, co-artistic director of Dramarama with Kate Allerston, said: “This was a celebration of the talent of young actors in the borough as well as a showcase for our successful collaborations with local schools and the council.”

Bernie Peploe, deputy head of Fulham Cross School, said their all-girl version of Macbeth was first performed at the school in the summer.
“We are very excited that our students have also been given the opportunity to perform the play at the Lyric theatre,” she said.

Tony Bobbett, from Fulham, whose daughter Rebecca, 11, was one of the young actors taking part in the Shakespeare: Live! production of Hamlet, said: “I am not a theatre-going person but I really enjoyed their first performance of Hamlet in the summer. All the children were very good.
Rebecca usually gets nervous before exams but she didn’t seem nervous about this at all. She has thoroughly enjoyed it. My wife and I are very pleased she has taken part in these performances at the Lyric. We are very proud of Rebecca and all the children.”

The borough’s mayor, Cllr Charlie Treloggan, who attended Shakespeare: Live!, said: “We are very proud of the high standard of work which our schools have produced in collaboration with Dramarama. This is a great example of how the Excellence in Cities programme has enabled us to provide an exciting range of extra academic and creative opportunities for pupils.”

November 21, 2004