60 young budding actors met during the Easter holidays full of expectation and nerves at the prospect of putting on four abridged Shakespeare plays in just four short days. The students had come from all over the UK and abroad to take part in a Theatresaurus workshop, designed to take a fresh look at the whole experience that can come from really ‘living’ a play. The experience was intense, focused and loads of fun.
The post performance response from both parents and children was effusive. The parent of 7 year old Alexei who performed in Macbeth said 'we were extremely impressed by the performance on Friday and the approach ….of not dumbing down the text, even for the youngest children. You have enhanced his culture''.
As the founder of Theatresaurus I have a long held belief that Shakespeare has to be active especially for those coming to it for the first time. It makes it come alive in kids’ minds and brings out their passion and enthusiasm for the writing.
I started running these four day Shakespeare workshops after my son sent me a text from school one lunchtime saying how boring Shakespeare was. I was running workshop sessions for the Shakespeare Schools Festival when I received the text. As you can imagine I was furious and hugely disappointed as my children have been bought up on a diet of Shakespeare and having seen many productions had up until then had a positive experience of his plays. For a lesson to have had this effect was pretty devastating. It made me determined to get to as many students as possible and encourage a love and understanding of the Bard and indeed other text'.
The secret of the magic of Theatresaurus is the practical nature of the work. We use improvisation, techniques and relevant themed games to help develop an understanding and enjoyment of the text so that the students have a visual picture of the story they are telling which give them confidence. We do not shy away from the text but embrace it. You do not need to understand every word of Shakespeare in order to enjoy him, it is the essence of his work we are trying to teach. The text seems to creep up on the students and before they know it they are reciting huge chunks with confidence and often piercing clarity. All the directors come from a professional theatre background and bring a strong sense of this to their work. The aim of Theatreasuarus is to roll these workshops out around the country, using our own particular style and active approach to the text to ignite a passion in kids that they can’t get simply from reading.
We work in all areas of theatre, not just Shakespeare. Our next course is the 10 day Speech and Drama workshop in the summer that will run at Millfield School. We also run a weekly drama club .
All details can be found on our website www.theatresaurus.co.uk