"if you need a new subject, just choose Shakespeare"
"I know of no other project on this scale that proceeds so smoothly"
"(I have) totally renewed vigour and positive energy towards teaching drama."
"I was delighted that they all learnt to project their voices. One pupil didn’t want to say one line in our class assembly at the start of term, but was desperate to be Prince Escalus. I gave him the chance and he absolutely surpassed himself and amazed me with his confidence. He has just read in church at our carol service with the same confidence and aplomb!"
"the children were high as kites"
"performing at Norden Farm was the icing on the cake"
"there was a real feeling of support and respect between the children from different schools"
"warm, welcoming and super organised"
Shakespeare - As You Like It celebrates Shakespeare through drama in primary schools, bringing the Bard to life through research, improvisation and professionally led workshops, and culminating in a performance on the stage of the Courtyard Theatre at the Norden Farm Centre for the Arts. All as part of the mainstream work in English & Literacy for Years 5/6 during the autumn term.
The Shakespeare - As You Like It project was born in 2000, started by Maureen Bukht, a teacher at Altwood School, and supported by Karen Butler, the then English Adviser for the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, and just seven schools participated in that first year. But the value and popularity of the project soon spread with the result that now twelve schools take part each year…. and over the years almost every state primary school in the borough has taken part at least once - with more schools applying than can be accommodated in the four day performance period!
2010 saw major changes in the administration of the project, with Maureen deciding to step down and Troublemaker Theatre Company taking over the reins of project coordination and administration. However, Catherine Lambert and Dave Farey, the artistic directors of Troublemaker, had been involved with the project for many years and have a comprehensive knowledge of the project from working with the teachers and pupils to the complexities of the organisation and administration.
Marigold Ashwell, a drama professional, who assessed the performances with the schools on the day and reported on the project as a whole, also decided to step down. Her role was filled by Helen E. Sharman, a member of the Guild of Drama Adjudicators, with considerable experience of working with young people in theatre. In addition, Angela Jenkins, the curriculum advisor for the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, took up co-management of the project on behalf of the local authority.
The original aims and objectives of the project however, remain the same. A fundamental principle of Shakespeare - As You Like It is that it is not a competition, and, inaddition to performing, the children are encouraged to comment constructively on the performance of others. But the emphasis throughout is on enjoyment - with a recognition of achievement at every level - so that all the participants leave the theatre with a real sense of achievement and pleasure.