Industry Sector, Culture & Creative, Blog Type, Fellowship Blog, IPT Blog, Fellowship Type, Sector based Fellowships | March 2014

Teaching Shakespeare

Fiona Mactaggart MP visits Shakespeare's Globe

On 20th February Fiona Mactaggart, Member of Parliament for Slough, visited Shakespeare’s Globe in London as part of her Industry and Parliament Trust (IPT) Fellowship. Fiona is undertaking a Fellowship in the cultural and creative industries which has seen her undertake visits to the National Theatre, Brit School, Royal Shakespeare Company and Pinewood Studios.

Fiona began the day by joining a school group on their tour of the Globe theatre and an inside look at the recently opened Sam Wanamaker Playhouse. After touring the much anticipated new theatre, which was self-funded by Shakespeare’s Globe, Fiona was shown around the state-of-the-art education and rehearsal centre.

Globe Education welcomes over 100,000 students a year and also has community projects in London as well as international outreach programmes. The annual Playing Shakespeare with Deutsche Bank project is now in its eighth year and runs on the Globe stage in March. It designs a Shakespeare production specifically for 11 to 16 year olds giving over 16,000 free tickets a year to secondary state schools across London as well as providing free workshops for 3,000 students and 100 teachers, and an accompanying interactive website with extensive resources for both students and teachers. Fiona saw preparations for The Merchant of Venice, this year’s production opening on 6 March.

At the Globe, school groups tour the theatre to set Shakespeare and his world in context before participating in Lively Action workshops led by Globe Education practitioners. These gave Fiona the opportunity to witness how Globe Education adapts techniques learnt by actors in the rehearsal room to introduce Shakespeare to students of all ages.

A key theme in Fiona’s Fellowship is how the cultural and creative sector is engaging with young people and educating them about the industry. This visit reinforced how organisations like the Globe are benefiting the future generation with an education outside of the traditional classroom. Globe Education is leading in the development of teaching practice and resources. Its iBook editions of Shakespeare texts lift the words from the page and students can access scenes on the Globe stage alongside interviews with actors and directors. Fiona saw how digital resources from play related activities on the Globe Playground for five to 11 year olds, to academic papers available on the Discovery Space, are central to Globe Education’s engagement with young people.

Fiona met with the staff of the Globe, including Neil Constable chief executive, to discuss their roles in the organisation. These meetings gave Fiona a broad understanding of how Shakespeare’s Globe, a charity which does not receive annual public subsidy, operates on a day-to-day basis. It balances a range of activities; staging theatre seasons with plays running at 96 percent capacity, a programme of public events and lectures, tailored educational activities and resources for pre-school to post graduate students, a research centre, an exhibition and tour, catering, events and retail facilities.

Fiona Mactaggart MP commented:

“The Globe is a wonderful resource for anyone who cares about Shakespeare, the master of Britain's greatest asset, our language. It was exciting to see the enthusiasm of young people, scholars and performers for this unique centre and to learn about their ambitious plans for the future.”

Neil Constable, Chief Executive at Shakespeare’s Globe, commented:

"It was a pleasure to meet Fiona and give her an in-depth look at the breadth of Globe Education’s expertise and how the unique theatres here, the Globe and the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, inform our work and the resources we produce for students of all ages. All that we do is dedicated to the experience and international understanding of Shakespeare in performance."