The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) has announced that its annual Playmaking Festival will this year move online.  

More than 100 young people from the RSC's Associate Schools Programme, supported by Samsung, have been working in partnership with RSC practitioners and local theatres across the UK to share a series of original digital responses to Shakespeare’s plays in lockdown.

Each week for five weeks, schools in the Associate Schools Programme network are being set a creative challenge. Inspired by the themes of As You Like It and The Taming Of The Shrew, and drawing on young people’s personal experience of living through lockdown, each of the challenges has been designed to be completed either by pupils still at school or by those learning from home.

Touching on themes of solitude, isolation, family relationships, mental wellbeing, the healing power of nature, and hope & redemption, the creative challenges include opportunities for young people to:

  • Design their own versions of the Forest of Arden using photographs or found materials
  • Film a video of themselves performing well-known speeches from Shakespeare’s plays
  • Create Petruchio’s wedding outfit from The Taming Of The Shrew

A musical challenge inspired by Under The Greenwood Tree will see young people from across the UK come together for a collective singalong on Wednesday 8 July. A compilation of virtual performances will premiere on YouTube on the same day.

The festival will also include the premiere of an original piece of work by the RSC’s young company of actors, Next Generation Act. Decameron2020: Under Lockdown looks at young people’s hopes, fears and responses to living in an age of lockdown.

Made up of 25 young people aged between 13 and 17, Next Generation Act is one strand of RSC Next Generation, a unique talent-development programme that provides gifted young people from backgrounds currently under-represented in the theatre industry with an opportunity to gain experience in acting, directing or backstage roles.

The whole festival is being supported by Samsung Electronics UK, the RSC’s Presenting Corporate Partner of the Associate Schools Programme, as part of its ongoing CSR commitment to inspire learning through technology.

Samsung has provided tablets to young people who would otherwise struggle to access creative opportunities online. The devices have been distributed in consultation with the RSC Education team and regional theatre partners, to enable participants to film and document their participation in the festival.

For more information about RSC Education and the work it does in schools nationwide, please visit rsc.org.uk/education