Shakespeare didn’t write a Midsummer Night’s Dream! Hmmmm?

I recently saw the film Anonymous which explores the idea that Bill didn’t write a single word of the many plays, sonnets or poems which have made him the most famous writer of all time, and it reminded me of a project that I haven’t blogged about yet.

In October I had the pleasure of working on an education project with Hendon School and St Mary’s school in Barnet, London called Mad Spirits.

Based on English Touring Opera’s current production of Purcell’s The Fairy-Queen, and devised by Tim Yealland,we worked with children from years 7 to 9 to create their own songs, lyrics, dances and dramatic content for a performance at the Arts Depot in London. The concept was that Titania (played by me), ran an institute that researched into the medical benefits of flowers and my husband Oberon (played by a wonderful actor called Tom Adams), was a painter and sorcerer who disapproved of my research methods. The different groups of children played volunteer test subjects and research students.

We spent approximately three days with each group with fantastic results. One of my favourite ideas in the performance was breaking up the “Yet marked I where the bolt of cupid fell……” speech from A Midsummer Night’s Dream into single lines and as a group with one line per person they were able to recite it so fluidly. I think that if they concentrated, they would be able to recite the whole speech individually, and that is the sort of lasting effect that makes projects like this so special and valuable.

There were also so many fantastic songs composed by the children, with the aid of composer Rachel Leach. They penned love songs and protest songs but I think my favourite song was about discovering cures for mystical diseases such as Reptilenesia, Goat Pox and Clearophobia!

Something else that was so warming about the project was that after our dress rehearsal when each group finally got to see what the other groups had devised, they were so complimentary about each other’s performances.

I had a great time with the performers from St Mary’s and Hendon schools. It was hard work at times but in the end they achieved something that they should all be very proud of. Well done!


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