[S]tudents at Penrith’s Queen Elizabeth Grammar School have been experiencing some immersive revision, courtesy of actors from the Royal Shakespeare Company.
English classes in years 9, 10 and 11 have all been reading Shakespeare’s well-loved tragedy Macbeth this year and were able to experience it in a unique way as they worked with members of the RSC to explore the play.
Eloise Secker, whose RSC credits include Two Noble Kinsmen and The Seven Acts of Mercy, and Daniel Easton, whose CV includes roles in The Tempest and Hamlet, performed key scenes from Macbeth, taking direction from students to explore the characters’ personalities and motivations.
Year 11 students will have the chance to experience the magic of live theatre this week, with the live streaming of Macbeth from the RSC in Stratford straight into the school’s sixth form centre. This production of the psychological thriller stars Christopher Eccleston and Niamh Cusack, and explores the tragedy’s themes of greed, ambition and lust for power.
Year 11 student Catherine Freedman, whose own play Shadows of Thornhill was staged recently by the Penrith Players, said: “There are a lot of different approaches you can take to the dramatic stylings of Macbeth. There are so many different themes in the play and it’s interesting for me because each approach can include multiple themes at once. I think the workshop has helped me prepare for GCSE because it has enabled me to see a version of the different scenes and think about it more. Giving direction to the actors has given us a more dramatic insight into the themes, emotions and intentions of the characters that Shakespeare crafted.”
English teacher, Mrs Raina Parker, said: “Shakespeare wrote his plays to be performed and our students have had the opportunity see how the direction influences the performance, as well as enjoy a live performance by world-class actors. I hope this will help them with their exams but, even more importantly, to develop their appreciation for the work of our best-loved playwright.”