The International Shakespeare Schools Festival, March 31st 2016
Host: Boris Johnson, Mayor of London
Organiser: Generating Genius alongside Shakespeare schools Festival.
Venue: Main Chamber City Hall.
The big showcase at City Hall is the culmination of a yearlong project by Generating Genius, where we are seeking to give students from deprived backgrounds and ethnic minorities access to the Classics. In the year that we will be commemorating the 400th death of William Shakespeare we want to bring the Bard back to the people. Shakespeare needs to be liberated from an intellectual elite which is often middle – class and white. Shakespeare is actually universal and speaks directly to the lives of ordinary people.
As Lenny Henry has said:
Having been "allergic" to Shakespeare – "When you're working class and you feel like you're a bit of a toerag, you think Shakespeare's not for you, you know?" – he's now deeply engaged with it: "Shakespeare is for everybody, not just for toffs with a cauliflower down their tights."
The Plays: 15-year-old students perform these. We will showcase 3 plays on the night from UK, China and Jamaica. These are 30-minute plays, which will not compromise Shakespeare’s original language, but they are all given their own cultural context. Through Shakespeare we find the glue that seriously binds humanity together as we watch his stories revealed through the lens of 3 culturally iconic countries. The Uk school will be from the inner city London.
The audience: This will be an invited audience. We will invite a range of schools from across the Uk and their teachers. There will be an array of VIPS from MPs, peers, executives from the arts and education. We will also invite the mayoral candidates and diplomats from China and Jamaica.
The Legacy: This will be the must have ticket during the year of celebrations. We will record the event and use it to encourage more London students to engage with Shakespeare. Drama teachers and their students who attend the performance will link with us so that we can support them in their schools going forward. China is looking to have it’s own International festival in the summer and they will invite a London school to come to China.