Banking On Shakespeare For Our Community

Earlier this year, we ran a wonderful day of Shakespeare workshops for King’s College in Guildford, made possible by a donation from Natwest. Peter Quilter, Surrey’s Director of Corporate and Commercial Banking, wrote an article for Platinum Magazine on the project and we’re delighted to present a short extract below.

Banking On Shakespeare For Our Community

We, at NatWest Corporate and Commercial Banking in Guildford, sponsored our first performance in 2016 – The Taming of the Shrew – and brought along customers who were delighted. Thus the arts and the business community were working together.

Being ‘Outstanding for Customers’ is one of the key parts of the local vision the NatWest team have in Surrey and working with Guildford Shakespeare fulfills another part of our mantra – being ‘Outstanding for our Community’. Our team soon started to learn about Guildford Shakespeare’s Outreach Programme. In particular the team learned about the company’s work with schools and an idea was born – could the bank sponsor a day where Guildford Shakespeare Company worked with a school that had not been involved with them before and whose students would not necessarily have exposure to Shakespeare or the theatre?

Soon Guildford Shakespeare company were able to work with Kings College Guildford. As Matthew Pinkett, their Head of English explains, “Literacy levels are low. Lots of children come in to Year Seven below the required standard for reading and writing. Some children, aged 11, come in with a reading age as young as six. The fact that many of these children come from families of low socio-economic status (SES) means that the materials needed for adequate development at home cannot be accessed.

One of the bank’s apprentices went along to be part of the day (although was not asked to get into costume!). This included workshops and an interactive 80-minute performance of their GCSE Shakespeare text, Macbeth. A few volunteers took roles in the performance, including the three witches and Duncan, the murdered king. The session was then concluded with a practical Q & A with the actors. This was all delivered to 96 students and staff in the most dynamic, thought provoking and engaging way.

The response from the pupils is best described by Matthew Pinkett: “For students who were lacking in so-called ‘high-brow cultural capital’ experiences, seeing Shakespeare in performance had immeasurable benefits. However, those that can be measured include renewed enthusiasm for their GCSE Shakespeare text, just prior to the exam season, and a greater understanding of the play’s plot, character relationships, and key scenes.”

One office of one local bank has enabled this small – but first of its kind – project to happen in sponsoring a GSC workshop at a school but the key question is “are there other leading businesses in Surrey who woumailto:[email protected] like to bring the arts into a school and inspire students?”

If you’d like to talk to us about sponsoring a community project, please contact us, [email protected].

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