Hello again.  Here we are in the Easter Holiday and so a belated Happy Easter to you all (if that’s appropriate). There’s an Easter Holiday Rant coming up so stand by! But first here at FTW HQ it’s been a funny old Easter really.  Richard dashed off to Sardinia immediately after our last lovely job in Cricklewood – scraping the barnacles off the bottom of ‘Such Stuff’ (his partner’s boat – get the Shakespeare reference?), putting in new windows and sorting out a problem with the heads (don’t go there) so not much of a rest really.  I have been under some rather lovely mild sedation having dental implants (health necessity not vanity). So I’ve had no top teeth for three days!  Looking forward to getting them back tomorrow and being able to eat solids again!  And also learning to speak with new gnashers!  I have eleven days to perfect my speech before the first FTW workshop of the summer term (A Midsummer Night’s Dream in Thomas Buxton Primary, Tower Hamlets) and then a performance of ‘Bard Heads’ at Trebah Gardens near Falmouth a few days later.

http://http://www.trebahgarden.co.uk/amphitheatre

And now a short Easter Holiday Rant

Prior to my dental adventure, I went into the bank to pay a cheque into the FINDING THE WILL account.  Nothing revelatory there except the response from the cashier which went something like this (you’ll have to imagine the tone!)

C:  “So what is FINDING THE WILL?”    Me: ” A Theatre Company taking Shakespeare into Primary Schools.”

C: “Oh, they like that do they? Enjoy it?”   Me: “They love it!”

C: “Well I suppose it’s how you put it across. It’s so complicated.”   Me: “Not really, it’s just Eastenders 450 years ago!”  Laughter from Cashier and another who was earwigging.

C: “Yes but I found it really difficult at school”   Me: “It’s just the language was different 400 years ago.  No one will understand this conversation in 400 years’ time.”

C: “I suppose. Can I help you with anything else?”   Me: “No thank you”  Subtext; “You’ve actually only succeeded in helping to put me a bad mood!”

But that is typical of what we, and I suspect many other Shakespeare companies (even the RSC heaven forfend), are up against.  A belief that Shakespeare is difficult and therefore boring,  Surely if teenagers and adults find it impossible to understand there is no way that primary school aged children can ‘enjoy’ it. And then they go and listen to ‘Up Town Funk’ and tell us how fabulous it is.  And with apologies to Mark Ronson, and to you dear readers, as I touched on this in the last blog, it is fabulous in its own way but I have no idea what the words mean. And this is just the first verse…….

“Uptown Funk”
(feat. Bruno Mars)
Doh
Doh doh doh, doh doh doh, doh doh
Doh doh doh, doh doh doh, doh doh
Doh doh doh, doh doh doh, doh doh
Doh doh doh, doh duh (Aaaaaaow!)

This hit
That ice cold
Michelle Pfeiffer
That white gold
This one for them hood girls
Them good girls
Straight masterpieces
Stylin’, wilin
Livin’ in up in the city
Got chucks on with Saint Laurent
Gotta kiss myself I’m so pretty

I’m too hot (hot damn)
Call the po-lice and the fireman
I’m too hot (hot damn)
Make a dragon wanna retire, man
I’m too hot (hot damn)
Say my name you know who I am
I’m too hot (hot damn)
And my band ’bout that money
Break it down…

Girls hit your hallelujah (ooh)
Girls hit your hallelujah (ooh)
Girls hit your hallelujah (ooh)
‘Cause Uptown Funk gon’ give it to ya
‘Cause Uptown Funk gon’ give it to ya
‘Cause Uptown Funk gon’ give it to ya
Saturday night and we in the spot
Don’t believe me just watch (Come on)

Doh
Doh doh doh, doh doh doh, doh doh (Hah!)

Don’t believe me just watch

Doh
Doh doh doh, doh doh doh, doh doh (Hah!)

Do you get it? Answers on a postcard or on our Facebook Page or Twitter http://https://www.facebook.com/FINDINGTHEWILL/ @FINDINGTHEWILL 1
So my real answer to the Bank Cashier and anyone else who doubts that 6-11 year olds can get any enjoyment out of Shakespeare is this “What is this song actually about? What do you actually ‘enjoy’ about this song?  Is it the meaningful words? The beautiful language? The rhythm? The melody?  Singing it out loud in your own inimitable style? Doing the dance moves? All of the above? Or some of the above? Because getting enjoyment from something is not simply about understanding it – it’s appreciating different aspects of it, getting involved with it yourself, getting out of it what you want to get out of it and taking that experience with you throughout life.”
And if that wasn’t enough, a quote from the Head of School at Pinchbeck East Primary, Lincolnshire

What do you think the children took away from FINDING THE WILL?

Where to begin? A real sense of confidence and achievement.  Throughout the week, the children became ‘intrigued’ and ‘fascinated’ in Shakespeare and Macbeth – and were keen to discuss and learn more. The whole experience was new and invigorating for them. The thrill of the performance was fantastic – their faces showed exactly what they had taken from the week!

Primary school flyer 2013

Rant over – I’m now going to have some more Carrot and Coriander soup and yet more yoghurt! Speak again soon!

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