Move Shakespeare to Drama in Schools

The Stage newspaper this week has printed a letter from our Co-Founder Matt Pinches in response to the recent poll regarding the results that only a third of children know who Shakespeare is.

Here's the letter Matt sent, and the article which he was writing in response to:

"I couldn’t agree more with Patrick Spottiswoode’s column (15 Nov) regarding the results of LAMDA’s recent poll of 11-18 yr olds. Viewing Shakespeare as a playwright is probably an alien concept to many children given the fact that they never get the opportunity to attend a play. As I see it there are two challenges here: funding (as Spottiswoode identifies), and the placement of Shakespeare in the curriculum.

"To have flagship programmes like Playing Shakespeare with Deutsche Bank is terrific, and Newham and Southwark councils’ initiatives should be blueprints for the rest of the country. The results of such projects are far reaching. Over the last 3 years our we’ve been touring to the most disadvantaged  Primary schools, whilst our most recent project with 11 of the most disadvantaged Secondary schools, The Play’s The Thing, has enabled 1,500 children to engage with a cultural experience for the very first time: “This will be the only experience of live theatre that some of our students have ever had. It will certainly be some students’ ONLY experience of a live Shakespeare play. Many of them will probably never see a production of Shakespeare again”, one teacher wrote to us. But why should that be the case?

"I think change needs to be addressed ‘where’ Shakespeare is placed in the school curriculum. These are plays, written for players to be performed and enjoyed by audiences as entertainment. Why then is Shakespeare not taught in drama? You don’t learn about Mozart in history so why is Shakespeare the preserve of English Literature classes?

"I would wager that if we moved Shakespeare to Drama lessons, not only would we significantly alter children’s (and equally importantly, their parents’) perceptions of the plays, but we would see a huge shift in the importance of arts provision and its teaching within our education system from central government."

Read more comments on this subject here

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