How to introduce children to Shakespeare without putting them off for life is a conundrum that Creation Theatre has grasped with both hands and run with.
Their Play in a Week workshops for children not only solve every working family’s holiday crises but also provide the perfect forum for a massively interactive, fun and sympathetically tailored literary week for children without them even realising its educative.
My two daughters therefore found themselves preparing for their end of the week performance of Love’s Labour’s Lost while the older group concentrated on Hamlet.
“We are doing Shakespeare mum. Do you know it?” they asked when climbing into the car after a busy first day at Headington Baptist Church (the workshops play out at different venues around Oxford).
Group leader Katie Collier then faced with her own challenges when producing such a complex and little known play for a group of children who refused to be have anything to do with love (eugh!), courting, marriage or romance.
Neither did the boys want to play girls or the girls boys.
Taking it all in her energetic, confident and positive stride, Katie soon had them all mesmerised by introducing some fun games, role play and then acting, all driven by the children and their ideas.
Hence Love Labour’s Lost was set in space complete with a Rihanna Work, Work,Work soundtrack and lots of Benny Hill music. The aliens were banned from interacting or harbouring feelings for humans, a test which they all, including their leader failed.
It was a highly polished performance, where the routines, lines and script were all perfectly executed.
“There’s just not enough Shakespeare in space is there,” second leader Josh Hall remarked afterwards as he introduced his Hamlet. And despite its heavily hacked format, it was all there, like a visual version of York’s notes, and just enough for the children to cope with.
Since their grand finale, mine have been locked away in our sitting room ever since, compiling their own plays, as well as teaching all their friends the games, songs and role-play they learned, so Creation's influence lives on.
But more than that, Creation provides children with invaluable life lessons in public performing, ad libbing, letting their imaginations run riot, confidence, working together and meeting new and creative people.
A massive success all round then. So whether you are planning half term, holiday or even weekend classes for your children, in October, December or 2017 check out Creation’s extensive junior programme. But book early because they usually sell out. I can’t recommend it highly enough.