3 min read
Blackpool Leads A Shakespeare Nation – The Grand Creative Learning Team have been busy working with the Royal Shakespeare Company and local adult community participants to stay connected and uplift their spirits during lockdown.
This is part of an RSC Shakespeare Nation national programme of activity.
Jo Cleasby, Learning Producer at Blackpool Grand fills us in on what’s been happening ‘At the start of lockdown I will admit, I was a bit of a mess. Being a creative learning producer I am used to being with lots of people, lots of the time.
‘Without much notice I found myself trapped at home with my two primary school children and husband. Whilst he locked himself in the study working from home all day I began the juggle of part-time working and homeschooling (I know this was nothing unusual, many people found themselves in similar and much worse positions.). I was desperate to be a good mummy teacher and that mummy school would be amazing…..it wasn’t long before I realised that my little darlings were not a replacement for my community drama groups and they didn’t want a director!
‘At one point I actually chased my poor Bin lady down the street to direct her performance of “To Bin or Not To Bin” to upload to the RSC twitter #ShareYourShakespeare. I then accosted the poor postman who was horrified at the thought of performing and I knew I needed to find a different creative outlet for mine and the delivery men and women of the Fylde Coasts sanity.
‘Zoom was swiftly becoming a new platform of communication for everything from drinking with friends, quiz nights, formal business meetings and online learning. It was through this medium that we at Blackpool Grand Theatre decided it was time to try to connect with our Shakespeare Nation (SN) participants and Shakespeare Champions. During what I initially expected to be a one off chat, it became clear that there was a real need, for a regular connection and focus. Luckily our entrenched partnership with the Royal Shakespeare Company meant that Ian Wainwright, SN participation producer was happy to join us on the voyage of online creative adventure. So a plan was formed…..
‘We embarked on our engagement by having an amazing vocal session with Michael Corbidge RSC voice coach, we went on to discuss productions we have seen, shared our lockdown experiences and laughed, a lot!
‘It was evident as the weeks passed by, that some participants were craving a performance platform and Ian and I had aspirations to ‘make something’ using the words of Shakespeare. I will confess that it was after a lockdown gin (slightly larger than usual) that I formed the idea of sharing a speech that would uplift us all and help us transition back into the world of Covid 19. Hence the selection of ‘Once More Unto The Breach’ from Henry V.
‘From early discussions about this text we unanimously discovered the resonance of Shakespeare’s words to rally the troops at Agincourt were pertinent to us, right now. Customarily active individuals were finding the simplest of outings difficult, others rated supermarkets by social distancing scores and we all had our battle ready costumes!
‘From filming at home to Zoom recorded footage we hope you will enjoy what we made.’
If you are interested in finding out more about the Creative Learning Team and future projects contact; firstname.lastname@example.org
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