Comedy of Errors
ROYAL SHAKESPEARE COMPANY VISITS TOWERS SCHOOL AND SIXTH FORM, ASHFORD WITH THE COMEDY OF ERRORS ON FRIDAY 23RD NOVEMBER
CONTINUING THE COMPANY’S FIRST ENCOUNTERS WITH SHAKESPEARE SERIES OF PRODUCTIONS FOR 7 – 13 YEAR OLDS ACROSS THE UK
The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) visited Towers School and Sixth Form on Friday 23rd 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 featured 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 Towers School and Sixth Form were directly involved in the production, 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. We also decorated parts of the set ahead of the RSC’s visit to create a sense of our hometown, Ashford.
The company performed twice across the day. The first performance was to over 180 students from Towers, Ethelbert Road and Phoenix Junior School. In the evening, we welcome 130 members of the public to our school and were thrilled with the reactions of both audiences. Many were crying with laughter at the performances of the actors and all were impressed with our young company at Towers.
Rebecca Gardner, the Lead Teacher of the RSC Associate Schools’ programme at Towers School said: “Providing our students with authentic experiences of the arts is something which is at the heart of Towers School’s curriculum. We believe that our students should have a knowledge rich curriculum, celebrating the arts, and that is exactly what the RSC Associate Schools’ programme allows us to do. Our RSC club are some of the most dedicated, talented and passionate students that I have had the pleasure to teach and they continue to grow as performers through their work with the RSC. They are all very excited to be working alongside professional actors for the production and, as a school, we look forward to hosting this performance for our local community.”
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).