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The Play's The Thing: Young Geniuses Take to the Stage

Originally Published 05 February 2004

Twenty gifted kids aged 13-15 from all over England who are members of the National Academy of Gifted and Talented Youth (NAGTY) based at the University of Warwick, will take to the stage at the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) in Stratford to take Macbeth from page to performance in a single day on Saturday 7th February 2004.

The outreach event entitled “Shakespeare in the Rehearsal Room” is a unique learning initiative for gifted pupils on Macbeth. Scenes from Macbeth will be explored, and students will face the challenge of creating their own mini-version of the play.

Students will see how the play works both onstage and in the rehearsal room. The practical workshop investigates the approaches taken during rehearsals for the current RSC production of Shakespeare’s dark political thriller, set to hit the stage in March.

The day will look at how the choices made by actors and directors affect our understanding of character, themes and language, and how to create a performance that reflects the militaristic, harsh and masculine environment and reality that Shakespeare’s text conveys.

Jacqui O’Hanlon, from RSC Education, will illustrate many of the techniques used by director Dominic Cooke who is preparing for the forthcoming RSC production of Macbeth. The students will get an insider's view of how a play is professionally put together before they approach the creative task of rehearsing the work. For example, students will use playing cards to look at the theme of status and the language of status within the play, a technique often used in rehearsal rooms.

Jacqui O’Hanlon, From RSC Education, said: “The students will learn about the process involved in getting the play onto the stage, all in the space of one day. This is no easy task when you consider that much of the hard work that goes into producing a play is done with months of preparation. The course shows the creative skills involved in staging Shakespeare.”

The Academy is open to the top 5% of gifted and talented pupils in the UK, and is working to improve educational provision for the most able students by working with students, educators and parents.

Professor Deborah Eyre, Director of NAGTY at the University of Warwick, said: “Following the successes of our Summer Schools the Academy has developed a range of outreach events to meet the needs of the brightest students in the country. Pupils with high potential need to have the opportunity to become high-achievers, and giftedness needs to be brought out through access to challenging opportunities. The Academy is now reaching out to students all over England to ensure that the gifted are given the education they need.”

Outreach events are short courses that take place at weekends or in school holidays and are open to all of the Academy’s current 2,500 members. They run at venues all over the country and are delivered by top experts in their field. This year NAGTY are set to offer around 200 events, with about 6000 places in total. Other outreach events will explore diverse topics, from the archaeology of human remains and history of medicine, to youth crime and deviance.

For more information or to arrange interviews please contact: Jenny Murray, Communications Office, University of Warwick, Tel: 02476 574 255, Mobile: 07876 21 7740