Royal Shakespeare Company presents:
First Encounters With Shakespeare:
The Comedy of Errors
By William Shakespeare. Edited by Alex Thorpe
York Theatre Royal, 29 and 30 November
The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) visits York Theatre Royal on 29 and 30 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 Comedy of Errors will feature 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 Fulford School and York High School will be directly involved in the production, with a team of up to twenty pupils 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.
The school will also be invited to decorate parts of the set ahead of the RSC’s visit to create a sense of their hometown.
Alex Thorpe said: “The RSC’s First Encounters 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.2
“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 per cent 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.”
Catch this at York Theatre Royal between November 29th and 30th.