BBC organising Shakespeare school initiative in the UK

MUMBAI: "If you prick us do we not bleed"! On Sunday 3 July, 10,000 young performers from 400 schools will bring Shakespeare to life in 100 theatres across the UK. This is the biggest one-off theatre event ever staged in the world.

One Night of Shakespeare - a collaboration between the BBC and Shakespeare Schools Festival – will see pupils performing their own interpretations of Shakespeare on a professional stage, directed and produced by their teachers. Such is the scale of the event that the BBC and Shakespeare Schools Festival will be attempting to enter the Guinness World Records for the most performances of Shakespeare on one night.

Each of the 100 theatres will stage four different half-hour productions from 13 abridged versions of the Bard's plays. They include Romeo and Juliet; Twelfth Night; Othello; As You Like It; Hamlet and The Merchant of Venice. In preparation for this UK-wide celebration of Shakespeare, teachers and pupils have received intensive professional training at director and cast workshops with the National Youth Theatre; Scottish Youth Theatre; National Youth Theatre of Wales and the Ulster Association of Youth Drama.

Shakespeare Schools Festival director Chris Grace says, "This project has been fantastic in bringing Shakespeare alive for young performers as well as boosting communication skills and school morale. The scale of this historic event is remarkable and the work that schools have put in should make for a wonderful, rewarding evening on 3 July."

Later in the year, some of Britain's leading television writers will interpret four of Shakespeare's plays in modern versions for BBC One. Peter Bowker sets A Midsummer Night's Dream during a weekend in a holiday park; while Sally Wainwright's version of The Taming of the Shrew has Kate as an opposition MP who is instructed to find herself a husband to make her more electable. In David Nicholls' Much Ado About Nothing, Beatrice and Benedict are co-presenters of a popular early-evening regional television news show. Peter Moffat's Macbeth is transposed to the enclosed and heated world of a top restaurant.



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