The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) visits St Mary’s College, Hull on Tuesday 27th November with its First Encounters with Shakespeare production of The Comedy of Errors.
For over a decade the RSC has been taking these First Encounters productions – which are edited versions of the plays performed using Shakespeare’s original language – on the road into the heart of communities.
Directed and edited by Alex Thorpe, and primarily aimed at 7-13 year olds, the production will feature a gender-split cast of eight actors and actor-musicians.
A key feature of the First Encounters productions is that they could not take place without the involvement and engagement of the audiences and local community they are visiting. Young people from St Mary’s College and eight other local schools will be directly involved in the production, with a team of up to twenty pupils performing an edited version of one of the play’s opening speeches, in which Egeon explains how he became separated from his wife and one of his twin sons. The school will also be invited to decorate parts of the set ahead of the RSC’s visit to create a sense of their hometown.
Ged Fitzpatrick, Executive Headteacher of St Mary’s College and CEO St Cuthbert’s Trust said: ‘As a World Class School we are delighted to provide our students with the opportunity to work with another world class organisation – The Royal Shakespeare Company. What is really exciting about this project though is that young people will not just watch an incredible production, but will become part of the RSC’s ensemble. Working alongside the professional cast they will be integral to the performance and therefore be provided with an insight into future careers in the arts industry. Importantly though, this is a clear indication of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s belief in the abilities and talents of the young people of Hull.’
Alex Thorpe said: “The RSC’s First Encounter’s productions have a long and exciting history of not only giving young audiences their early experiences of Shakespeare and theatre, but also actively involving them in the making of it. This year I am delighted to be leading a company who will take things a step further. This production is being built around its audience and the places we visit. Extending and building on the play’s themes, the professional company of actors and actor-musicians will be joined by ensembles of young performers from across the UK to help tell some of the story. Ephesus, the play’s market town setting, will feel uncannily familiar as local communities work together to complete the stage’s design. My relationship with the RSC’s Education Department has seen me collaborate with and learn from teachers, artists and school groups right across the country. Being brought up in the North West market town of Kendal, the opportunity to take Shakespeare’s farcical comedy to locations that feel like home is the perfect way to share one of Shakespeare’s earliest works.”
Jacqui O’Hanlon, RSC Director of Education, said: “At the heart of our First Encounters with The Comedy of Errors tour are the regional theatres and schools we are privileged to work in collaboration with to create it. Many of us have our first encounter with Shakespeare at school, an experience which can define our attitude to live theatre and to Shakespeare for all of our lives. Together with our partner theatres we bring the excitement and wonder of Shakespeare’s work right into the heart of schools and local communities. We know that audiences for this work include significant numbers who are new to Shakespeare and to theatre. And that 20% of returning audiences have had their first encounter with theatre through these tours is testament to the profound impact that partnerships between schools and theatres can have on local communities; partnerships forged out of a shared vision for education in which access to the arts plays a central part.”
The cast includes: Hasan Dixon (Antipholus of Ephesus), Jessica Dyas (Angleo/Egeon), Aruhan Galieva (Luciana/Duke Solinus), Lewis Griffin (Dromio of Ephesus), Rhiannon Handy (Adriana), Paula James (Merchant/Emilia/Officer), Nicholas Karimi (Antipholus of Syracuse) and Thomas Pickles (Dromio of Syracuse).
Other members of the creative team include: Amelia Hankin (Designer), Eamonn O’Dwyer (Music), Simon Pittman (Movement), Lisa Connell (Fights) and Edie Edmundson (Puppetry Director).
- Evening public performance , 7pm in the St Mary’s College school theatre. Tickets £5 each or £15 for a family of 4 (must include at least one adult or one child), available from https://www.hullboxoffice.com/event/the-comedy-of-errors-rsc-first-encounters-with-shakespeare/ or from the school reception Tel: 01482 851136