The Tempest, Shakespeare’s last play, is surely a play for our time. Read on to find out how children and young people draw parallels between The Tempest and the grim world we are living in today.

Nothing says The Tempest like a Jester’s hat and a crown!

During March we have visited 4 schools, introduced over 500 children and young people to either The Tempest or A Midsummer Night’s Dream and covered almost 1500 miles. It’s good to be properly back after the last two years!

Anson Primary School, Cricklewood – The Tempest

We began the mad March month back at Anson Primary School in Cricklewood. This amazing school is a hidden gem in London bursting with creativity and inclusivity. This was our 10th year of introducing Years 3&4 to one of Shakespeare’s masterpieces (only missing the Covid year of 2020) and Nick and I were delighted to help recreate The Tempest (the first show Richard and I ever did there back in 2012). The vision and passion of the Year 3/4 staff is hard to quantify, suffice to say that in no other school do we have a glitter ball, a smoke machine and, this year, a UV sequence! As always there were some outstandingly brave performances from our 7 and 8 year old actors, for many of whom English was a second language. What courage!

We send huge thanks as always to Mr Waters, Mrs Bond, Mr Clargo and Mrs Mendoza. We’d also like to take the opportunity to send our very best wishes to Mrs Lansiquot for her retirement (we’ll miss you!), and say congratulations to Mr Pile on becoming the new Captain of the Good Ship Anson. We look forward to many more voyages with you!

St Michael’s Junior, Chelmsford – The Tempest

From Cricklewood we moved on to Chelmsford and four more ‘tempestuous’ interactive workshops with Years 3-6. We’d never visited St Michael’s Junior before, but we really hope we have the opportunity to do so again. This is a wonderfully welcoming, friendly school with staff that make you feel right at home from the moment you step through the door.

The Tempest. Prospero’s Spell Book courtesy of Anson Primary School

Given the war in Ukraine, the usual discussion about the validity of Prospero taking over Caliban’s island and using his powerful magic to enslave Caliban took on extra resonance. In fact it was one young man in Year 3 who brought a lump to our throats when he said “Prospero is behaving like the Russian Prime Minister.” Prime Minister/President – we knew what he meant and he was spot on – out of the mouths of babes eh?

In fact all the year groups in this lovely school were big on the humanitarian side of things. Year 4 were keen on the fact that ‘we all have rights’; Year 5 King Alonso worried about “losing my amazing son” (OK and losing all his money too!); and Year 6 talked about ‘abuse of power’. In general this was a school very much in favour of forgiveness rather than revenge, which gives us some hope in these dark times. Many thanks Mrs Orton for organising the two days we spent with you.

“Thank you SO much for the workshops – we thoroughly enjoyed our time with you and the children are still buzzing today.”

Mrs Orton, Year 5 Teacher

Southlands School, North Tyneside – A Midsummer Night’s Dream

In the middle of our mad March, we moved on to another new school to us. Southlands School is a small and friendly Special School in North Shields. Our Interactive Workshops with KS4 on A Midsummer Night’s Dream were great fun! Bearing in mind that our usual identifying costumes are made to fit primary school children, we thought outside the box and took a selection of hats. These proved a great success and also inspired some amazing performances. Helena in Year 10 took on a real ‘diva’ personality – inspired!

Helena’s stripy ‘film star’ hat!

The staff at this lovely school also got involved playing the roles of Oberon and Titania in one workshop. There’s something really rather wonderful about seeing students and their teachers getting stuck in and discovering a story together. A dream? No, just beautiful reality in North Shields! Again, we sincerely hope that this won’t be our one and only visit. Huge thanks to Ms Bell who looked after us splendidly all day and ensured the day ran smoothly.

 “Just  wanted to say a huge thank you for your wonderful work today at Southlands – we all  thoroughly enjoyed your workshops and thought you were amazing.  We would love to have you back….”

Ms L Bell

Marshfields School, Peterborough – The Tempest

The very end of March took us east again to Peterborough and one more new school to us. Marshfields School is another amazing special school where we were privileged to work on The Tempest with KS3. Yet again they were adamant that “people should not take over other people’s homes” . They were equally keen to make the point that revenge ultimately, perhaps inevitably, leads to war. Is it just the climate we are living in? Or is it that young people nationwide are genuinely giving us hope for a better future? Once again we were treated to some cracking performances – Prospero in both Years 8 & 9 repeated beautifully Prospero’s famous lines in a way that made your heart sing!:

Our revels now are ended. These our actors,

As I foretold you, were all spirits and

Are melted into air, into thin air……….

We are such stuff

As dreams are made on, and our little life

Is rounded with a sleep.

William Shakespeare, The Tempest, Act IV Sc I

Again, we send huge thanks to Ms Ferro who was so welcoming and ensured everything went swimmingly throughout the day. We really do hope we can work with you again next year.

Mad March Voyages

So there we have it. We’ve sailed on The Good Ships Rich Ship (try saying that first thing on a Monday morning!), Royal Loyal, Coconut Core, Great Galleon, Trevor, Tiktok Richy Rich and Sailor’s Ghost United as well as safely negotiating our way through the magical wood just outside Athens and it’s been brilliant! A massive thank you to all the incredible schools we’ve been lucky enough to work in. We’ve one more school to visit before the Easter holidays – St Edburg’s in Bicester where we are going to Dream with KS1, so I’ll report back on that next month!

Finally, if you have a free evening next Thursday 7 April, why not check out NAMING THE VIEW – an online screening of the studio drama written by Richard and starring us both! Arts Council funding has allowed us to film this beautiful piece. Tortive Theatre is hosting the final screening before it goes On Demand. More information on that next month. Till then, stay safe everyone and remember “The rarer action is in virtue than in vengeance”!


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