RSC playmaking festival gets new online platform

Published: 5 July 2021
Reporter: Steve Orme

Members of the York playmaking festival, held in the Swan Theatre, Stratford in 2019 Credit: Sara Beaumont

The Royal Shakespeare Company has unveiled its new online platform for its annual playmaking festival which for the first time has included submissions from adults as well as the RSC’s associate schools.

More than 1,500 students from 80 schools submitted 21 filmed performances for the festival, each one inspired by one of Shakespeare’s plays.

The playmaking festival web site has three zones, each inspired by a line of Shakespearean text, “Something wicked this way comes”, “More strange than true” and “And now, let’s go hand in hand”. Within each zone, audiences can access performance pieces created by different groups.

Entrants were provided with bespoke toolkits to support their performances. These included original music pieces composed by Tarek Merchant plus music and movement sessions with Merchant and Tanushka Marah.

Schools also had the opportunity to rehearse with mentors Marieke Audsley, Sam Colborne, Amy Draper, Oliver Lynes, Julia O'Keefe, Aaron Parsons, Luke Pearson, Abigail Sewell, Martha Toogood, Chris White, Leigh Wolmarans and Roberta Zuric.

Jacqui O'Hanlon, RSC director of learning and national partnership, said, "this is an important time of reconnection for children, young people and adults across the country: reconnection with each other, with classmates, teachers and with local communities.

“The playmaking festival celebrates their creativity and resilience as we all come together to shape and make responses to Shakespeare's work. The festival invites makers and audiences of all ages to play and discover. We are so proud of the work and the achievements of the schools, communities and theatres we are privileged to work in partnership with."

Meanwhile, the RSC has announced that its 74th summer school, a week-long programme of online talks and sessions with actors, theatre-makers and academics, is to be held from Monday 23 until Friday 27 August.

RSC productions past, present and future will be explored, including insights into the summer season production of The Comedy of Errors and an exclusive peak into the company’s 2022 programme.