Shakespeare ‘As You Write It’ Workshop

Shakespeare - As you write it (8)

We in the English department are always looking for ways of making tough texts easier for our younger students, so when an email was sent to Ms Bell from the Australia Playhouse stating that they were looking to perform in the Coonabarabran area, it was investigated immediately!  (See slideshow below)

On Monday morning, 21st March, three players from the Australia Playhouse performed for our Year 7 and 8 students.  It was a very interactive show, with our students deciding both the venue (Medieval England) and the film (Shrek) which was then formed into the new play created on the stage. Shrek became a 5-Act comedy, tragedy and history play all in one, with the inevitable wedding but also the odd happenstance that our hero (Shrek) possessed the power of being ‘good with his feet’, which made the ending (Lord Farquard trying to chop off Shrek’s feet just so he can be that bit taller) very farcical indeed. And when the students weren’t laughing at the mayhem on stage, they were being taught such foreign things as soliloquy and iambic pentameter, simile and prologue, all very useful terms to support their future learning with Shakespeare.

While it may have appeared a tough gig; playing to a young audience first thing on a Monday, and about Shakespeare of all things, the players quickly engaged their audience with a mixture of slapstick fighting (the final scene), dramatic pause (waiting for the dragon, so Fiona and Shrek – both played by male actors – didn’t have to kiss as they had just promised. Spoiler alert – the dragon never showed) and comedy (nearly everything that happened in the show). Some of the audience’s reactions to what was happening entered the play – ‘Shall I compare thee to a chicken wrap? Thou art wholesome.’?! With the catchphrase, ‘more Shakespeare than Shakespeare’, the three players from Australia Playhouse certainly delivered!

It was a loud 90 minutes, but an intensely enjoyable time for all involved. Well done, Year 7 and 8 for taking up the challenge with such gusto! Hopefully Shakespeare seems that little less imposing now.

Our annual Shakespeare Festival will take place at the end of Term 2, with a mixture of tragedy with Year 9 and 10 performing Romeo and Juliet and Macbeth, and a return to romantic comedy after many years’ absence, with Year 11 performing As You Like It.

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