BELL Shakespeare and the Canberra Theatre Centre are about to astonish Canberra, and by implication the rest of the country, with their inaugural “Bell Shakespeare Schools Festival” running this week in the Playhouse.
It’s a first, with high schools and colleges from the ACT and nearby region exploring the Bard in all his complexity.
Billed as a non-competitive, open-access, multi-disciplinary Shakespeare performance festival for Australian students in Years 7 – 10, the event will see six schools that have been selected to perform the Scottish tragedy, “Macbeth” on The Playhouse stage.
Leading up to the festival, Bell artists will have been working with students in schools in and around the ACT who were invited to apply, with six schools ultimately selected.
Bell Shakespeare has cleverly adapted “Macbeth”, into 3 x 30-minute sections. Schools per night will perform their section of the play in succession, so that audiences will see the entire play performed in three dramatically different styles.
Teachers in each school have acted as director, and under the guidance of the company’s, have rehearsed the play over a term, with students taking on roles in performance, design, music, publicity, technical aspects and stage management
They were encouraged to take a multi-disciplinary approach to staging the plays, using music, dance, media arts and/or design, if wished.
Teachers also got the chance to participate in a director’s weekend involving interpretation and directorial skills prior to the actual rehearsal period, in line with founding director John Bell’s recollections of uninspring school Shakespeare classes in his youth .
Assuming the festival is picked up around the country, Shakespeare may never be the same again. I wouldn’t miss this one.
Bell Shakespeare Schools Festival, At the Playhouse, 6.30pm, November , 4 – 6 bookings to canberratheatrecentre.com.au or 6275 2700.
Tuesday, November 4
Part 1 – Wanniassa School Enrichment Program
Part 2 – Canberra Grammar School
Part 3 – St Edmund’s College
Thursday, November 6
Part 1 – St Francis Xavier College
Part 2 – Campbell High School
Part 3 – Batemans Bay High School