Best Practice

First encounters with William Shakespeare

With research showing the impact that arts education can have on pupil outcomes, Emma Lee-Potter reports on the Royal Shakespeare Company’s work introducing Shakespeare to children for the first time
First encounters: The 12-week tour of schools and theatres introduced Shakespeare to children aged 7 to 14 (all images: Joe Bailey/RSC)

The sense of excitement in the hall at Sydenham Primary School was palpable. 

Eight professional actors from the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) were limbering up for their performance of Romeo and Juliet, a group of year 5 and 6 children were having a last-minute pep talk about their roles, and pupils from visiting schools were excitedly taking their seats. 

The occasion was part of this year’s RSC First Encounters with Shakespeare 12-week tour of schools and theatres around the country, all aimed at introducing Shakespeare to new audiences and youngsters aged 7 to 14.

The tour included performances in Bradford, Corby, Cornwall, Hull, Stoke-in-Trent and Skegness and has been able to travel to more areas than previously this year due to a grant from Arts Council England.

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