For the first time, learners across Coleg y Cymoedd are involved in performances for the prestigious Shakespeare for Schools Festival.
Groups of learners from three campuses are putting on short half hour Shakespeare plays in one night at the Coliseum Theatre in Aberdare on Thursday 5th November.
Shakespeare for Schools Festival is the largest youth drama festival in the UK and the world, offering students from all backgrounds the opportunity to perform Shakespeare on their local professional stage.
Performing Arts learners from the Rhondda campus will be performing their abridged version of Macbeth, learners from the Nantgarw campus BOOST Theatre group will be performing Shakespeare's comedy Twelfth Night and Vocational Access learners from the Ystrad Mynach campus will be performing The Tempest.
All three Coleg y Cymoedd performance groups’ learners will be sharing their performance evening with learners from Mountain Ash Comprehensive School, who are performing A Midsummer Night's Dream.
The college has been taking part in tutor and learner workshops in collaboration with Shakespeare’s Schools Festival who are a London based organisation holding events all over the UK with the aim of introducing learners to a professional theatre company.
Alongside a fantastic evening of entertainment, the event is set to showcase the many talents of learners across the campuses, both those gaining qualification in the creative arts and those on other academic programmes who are taking part through the colleges enrichment programme BOOST.
Tutor Rebecca Francis Jones, who coordinated the Nantgarw campus play said: “It's a really exciting opportunity for everyone involved. It's the first time Coley y Cymoedd have been involved in the Shakespeare For Schools festival, and it's great that students from three campuses will get to perform on the same night and see each other in action.”
“So far the opportunity has been fantastic, with a brilliant staff training day run by Shakespeare for Schools which gave lots of ideas for approaching the play, so a brilliant opportunity for staff as well as a great opportunity for learners.”
“Don't miss out on a night of culture, fun and maybe even a few fireworks along the way.” Tickets are on sale now, and can be bought by calling the box office on: 08000 147111 or at: http://coliseum.rct-arts.org/en/whats-on/view/2015/11/05/shakespeare-schools-festival2
More about the performances and cast by campus:
Macbeth - Rhondda
“The Performing Arts students have been working hard on our ensemble Physical Theatre piece. We have totally revived the play, and have made it quite contemporary and interesting for our audience to watch, using a soundtrack throughout and capturing the audience with our physicality and innovative ensemble settings.
We have a mix of Level 2 and Level 3 Performing Arts students working on the project and we our thoroughly enjoying the work shopping, devising and creative aspects of the whole process. Learners are engaged throughout, coming up with their own original ideas and choreography to make the story of Shakespeare’s tragic play come to life. The process has been a thrilling way for all new learner’s to interact, explore and be supportive of one other in an ensemble setting.
The students have shown a real enthusiasm and likeness for Shakespeare which shows the empathy that his works still have today and on a modern generation.
We already have videos and pictures available of our workshops and choreography on YouTube and on our web page. We are also on twitter and Instagram as a course also.”
Some of the talented students performing in the production:
- Liam Hatch – Liam is playing the lead role of ‘Macbeth’ and Year 2 Level 3 student. He is a Model in his own right and has been featured in many films and adverts that are recognised throughout the UK and Europe.
- Megan Dimond – Megan is playing ‘Lady Macbeth’ a Year 2 Level 3 student. She is a wonderful performer. She works as a performer for Children’s parties and events and has also featured in plays such as ‘Blood Brothers’.
- Laura West – Laura plays one of the ‘3 witches’ a Year 2 Level 3 student. She is a regular extra in the Sky 1 series ‘Stella’. She has also worked on many different tv sets throughout Wales.
- Elizah Appiah – Eliza plays the role of ‘Malcolm’ a Year 2 Level 3 student and part of the ensemble. She films for ‘Casualty’ as a regular and has been involved with the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama as well as the actor’s studio there.
The Tempest - Ystrad Mynach
“The next few weeks promise to be an exciting time for an aspiring group of young actors from Coleg y Cymoedd, Ystrad Mynach Campus. No fewer than ten Vocational Access students have been selected to take part in a nationwide Shakespeare Schools Festival. They are joined by fellow learner James Evans who is the only cast member with any previous acting experience.
It is no easy task to take on the challenge of performing a shortened version of The Tempest, but that is exactly what this courageous and determined fledgling troupe are doing.
Rehearsals are well under way and the students, under the watchful eye of LSA and Co-Director Donna Evans, have even visited the venue at Aberdare Coliseum where all those involved took part in a hugely entertaining and informative acting workshop.
Director Graham J. Evans would like to thank Steve Todd for his assistance with sound and music recordings and Blackwood Little Theatre for the generous loan of costumes and props.
The talented cast list is as follows:
- Craig Stone
- Emily Bates
- James Evans
- Lisa Lawrence
- Brandon Lower
- Shannon Llewellyn
- Rhys Pile
- Rhia Palmer
- Jamie Stone
Twelfth Night - Nantgtw
“At the Nantgarw campus, we're working on the comedy Twelfth Night, as part of the BOOST enrichment programme; it's great that the students have been given the opportunity for such a tangible and rewarding experience through this programme.
We have a mix of students involved from AS and A2 Drama, other A level and vocational subjects, and students from the entry level Performing Arts course.
It's a really inclusive process, with direction coming from the learners. They have really engaged with the opportunity and are all really excited about getting to perform in a professional theatre, with support from industry professionals.
For AS drama learners it is supporting their practical exam study, as Twelfth Night is one of their text extracts. For A2 drama learners, it gives them another dimension to add into their practical evaluation, which must include synoptic learning opportunities from their course. The process so far has also been a great way for new learners to meet, bond and develop friendships across the whole campus.
Learners are also really responding well to the challenges of the language and the play itself - they've been laughing at the content and have fully staged a shipwreck! The students have really responded to Shakespeare, which I think shows the success of a scheme like SFS Festival.”
Some of the talented learners involved include:
- Gerome Jackson - Gerome has been involved in Boost Musical Theatre and took part in 3 shows last year. He is now on the entry level Performing Arts course, run by Darren Hardwicke.
- Thomas Whitcombe - Thomas has completed his full A level in Drama, and is a third year student finishing A levels in Music, English and Media. He has just been involved in the National Youth Theatre summer scheme, and is helping me with directing and coordinating the Boost group - he is using this as a chance to really bolster his Personal Statement.
- Cerys Haines and Cory Baker are both A2 students, continuing Boost and participating in SFS to develop their practical performance skills.
- Jess Thomas is one of the MAT (More Able and Talented) students, she is not studying drama but loves performing and took part in all of the Coleg y Cymoedd shows last year.
- Edward Franks-Herbert is a new AS learner who started in September, he enjoys Shakespeare and every aspect of performance.