On Friday 15 November, the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) will become the first UK theatre to broadcast Shakespeare direct into schools, as Richard II with David Tennant in the title role is streamed free of charge into classrooms up and down the country.
Directed by the RSC's Artistic Director, Gregory Doran, Richard II will be viewed by at least 34,000 students across the UK and will be followed by a live Q&A with David and Gregory. 78% of the schools taking part in the broadcast are from the state sector and nearly half (46%) will be seeing the company's work for the first time with no previous ticketing history with the RSC. The performance will run from 09.30 to 12.30pm including a 20 minute interval and the live Q&A will run from 12.55 – 1.30pm. Both the screening and Q&A will be introduced and hosted by Konnie Huq.
A UK first, Richard II launches a series of Shakespeare productions that the RSC will broadcast free of charge to schools each term as part of its Young Shakespeare Nation project, in collaboration with The Prince's Foundation for Children and the Arts (CATA).
The broadcast is made possible through a creative collaboration between the RSC, Ravensbourne College and Janet, part of the Jisc Group, who manage one of the world's leading research and education networks. Janet has provided the resource which enable 3,000 terminals to log on to this unique online experience and the team at Ravensbourne has built an interactive platform that will allow them to present the film in an exciting and dynamic way to young audiences. During the 20 minute interval students will be invited to submit their questions about the production to David and Gregory who will be based in a TV studio at Ravensbourne College with Konnie. The questions will be displayed on a touchscreen and David and Gregory can then select which question they want to answer as part of the live Q&A between 12.55 and 13.30.
As well as overseeing the broadcast and studio, the students at Ravensbourne have also devised an interactive map as part of the studio set which will show the geographical spread of where participating schools across the country are based. After the production, all participating schools will be asked for feedback and student reaction to the experience with a select group of schools taking part in more in-depth focus group discussions about the impact of the project.
In light of the recent reforms to the English curriculum which stipulates that all state educated 11-14 year olds must study a minimum of two Shakespeare texts, the live broadcast series is an example of how the RSC is working with new technology partners to give more young people access to high quality experiences of Shakespeare in school.
Young Shakespeare Nation is a new initiative inviting schools, students and teachers across the UK to join the RSC and CATA on an ambitious journey through Shakespeare's plays, giving a new generation of students the chance to discover and experience the breadth of his work. For more information about Young Shakespeare Nation visit; www.rsc.org.uk/education and to register for the live broadcast, visit: http://onscreen.rsc.org.uk/education/default.aspx.