Macmillan Academy recently hosted the Royal Shakespeare Company who performed their 'First Encounters' production of The Merchant of Venice. This was a wonderfully accessible and entertaining production aimed particularly at young people aged seven to thirteen and all of our Year 7 students were able to see the performance, along with pupils from Archibald Primary and other local schools. The local community were able to come along to a special evening performance on the 21st October and it was thoroughly enjoyed by both older and younger audience members.
The play itself asks some very challenging questions, especially for audiences today; including questions about the way we live, work and behave with people of different faiths and cultures. At the heart of the play are two young people, Jessica and Lorenzo, about to make some huge choices that will affect their lives forever. It seemed fitting then that these characters were played by our very own students, Adam (Year 12) and Paige (Year 10); who are part of the RSC Next Generation Act Company. Both Adam and Paige have spent time in Stratford throughout the year working with the director Robin Belfield in exploring these challenging roles. As an academy we were extremely proud of their performances and the opportunities that the RSC are providing for our young people.
As well as seeing the play in performance, there were a host of opportunities for students to get involved and develop an understanding of theatre from a wide range of perspectives. Post 16 drama students took on roles to support the stage management and technical aspects of the production. In addition to this, a selection of KS3 and 4 students extended their knowledge of theatre by researching, designing and creating the three caskets that are central to the plot. Even our teachers benefited, with all English and Drama teachers participating in a workshop run by a member of the RSC educational team. It was also a delight to see five of our Year 7 students presenting the caskets in the performance.
This was an exciting experience for all involved - we can not wait to see what is next!