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Shortened version of Shakespeare is put on by schools

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YOUNGSTERS took to the stage at Beau Sejour theatre last night, many of them for the first time, to take part in the National Schools Shakespeare Festival.

Notre Dame pupils rehearsing Romeo & Juliet. Left to right, Lorcan McClay (Mercutio), Francesco Cacace (flautist and storyteller), Ava Bisson (Juliet) and Raef Newton (Romeo), all 10. (Picture by Adrian Miller, 26419710)

Two schools, Le Murier and Notre Dame du Rosaire, staged specially abridged versions of Macbeth and Romeo and Juliet respectively, to a paying audience of family and friends.

They were two of some 750 schools across the British Isles which have been working on Shakespeare plays for several months as part of the festival project.

Joining them as theatre director for the day was Hannah Watson, who said the aim of the festival involved schools from England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales as well as Guernsey and the Isle of Man.

Behind the event is charity the Shakespeare Schools Foundation, set up in order to boost youngsters’ confidence. ‘It’s about giving young people the chance to stand up on a stage and find their confidence and find their voice using Shakespeare as a tool,’ said Miss Watson.

Directing Le Murier’s Macbeth was Diane Mathews and Robyn Mahoney and Mrs Mathews said the students – from Years 8 and 9 – had chosen the play themselves.

‘They’ve grown in confidence and they are working very well as a team,’ she said as the students worked patiently through a technical rehearsal.

‘Their engagement skills have improved too. They’ve been fantastic and easy to work with from the beginning.’

Taking the role of Juliet in Notre Dame’s production was 10-year-old Ava Bisson: ‘We all had to audition last year,’ she said.

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She was no stranger to performing: ‘I’ve done monologues in the Eisteddfod. I love acting.’

Raef Newton, 10, was playing Romeo and said he had really enjoyed himself – but both he and Lorcan McClay, 10, as Mercutio, said they had particularly enjoyed learning the fight scenes, which saw the school getting a visit from local actor, fight choreographer and street dance tutor Dave Hyett to show them some theatrical combat moves.

The version of the play being staged by Notre Dame featured music provided by flautist Francesco Cacace, 10, who said that none of them had done Shakespeare before and had had a bit of trouble with some of the language at first.

‘We had to have some of the words explained to us,’ he said.

Mark Ogier

By Mark Ogier
News reporter

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