The way we communicate, socialise and live our lives has altered dramatically over the past decade. Theatre and the arts are no exception and using an interface that young people are familiar with and feel comfortable using has helped us reach new audiences on a scale that was previously unimaginable. Digital platforms mean that we can now reach all sorts of people that we wouldn’t have been able to connect with through more traditional channels –whether because of financial or geographical limitations or because they’d decided that it just wasn’t for them.
We are also the only UK theatre to stream our current productions directly into classrooms up and down the country each term for free. Our Schools’ Broadcasts programme, streaming its 6th screening next month, has meant that thousands of students, who wouldn’t or couldn’t ordinarily access our work, have now seen a world-class theatre production from the comfort of their own classroom. Around half of the audiences for these broadcasts have been completely new to Shakespeare, and over 80% have been new to the RSC’s work. A high percentage of teachers surveyed about the broadcast experience now says they are planning to attend a live theatre performance in the future as a direct result.
It’s clear that using platforms and interfaces that young people are familiar with and confident in using is helping democratise our work on a scale like never before. This is great news in terms of giving more teachers and students better and easier access to our work but the longer-term impact can be much more profound. Students and schools are able to ‘dip their toes’ informally into our work and often the result is that preconceived ideas they had about Shakespeare being ‘too complex’ or ‘not for us’ are challenged. When students then have a good experience of Shakespeare in the classroom, their understanding of what they are capable of and their confidence are boosted and the chances are that they will adopt a ‘can do’ attitude to complex work in the future rather than feel intimidated and retreat. So whilst our theatres and the experience of live performance will always remain at the core of everything we do, technology is an increasingly critical part of the jigsaw – particularly in our engagement with young people. As well as allowing us to take our work out far and wide, it provides an important gateway to building an understanding and appreciation of the arts and Shakespeare’s work that can stay with and enrich young people for the rest of their lives.
• Information about the RSC’s Schools’ Broadcast Programme can be found at: http://onscreen.rsc.org.uk/education/default.aspx
• For more information about the free interactive whiteboard resources visit: interactive-learning.rsc.org.uk.
• More information about Dream Team 2016 can be found here: www.dream2016.org.uk
I just want to say a massive Thank You to Jacqui and Jo for this! The Dream Team project looks fantastic and is something we will certainly be signing up for at our school.
Having used Shakespeare in the Primary classroom, the response from the children is always positive. The ability to integrate technology to help children immerse and retell the plays is a very powerful tool!
Have a read of some previous blog posts about what we have done-