Last month, pupils from ARK Rose Primary Academy in Kings Norton took to the stage at the Swan Theatre in Stratford-Upon Avon, home of the Royal Shakespeare Company.

Heavy is the head that wears a crown? Not for our budding thespians

Pupils from ARK Rose Primary Academy perform Shakespeare at the RSC in Stratford Upon Avon

Pupils performed ‘The Head that Wears a Crown’, which brings together excerpts from Shakespeare’s greatest history plays – Henry IV Parts I & II and Henry V – and tells the thrilling story of wayward bad boy Prince Hal and his transformation into  a courageous and noble king.  Our pupils performed two scenes. Pupils from ARK Kings Academy and St Alban’s Academy delivered a scene each.

ARK Rose Primary Academy pupil standing tall as part of the RSC production of 'The Head that Wears a Crown'

The performance was the culmination of the RSC’s three year Learning and Performance Network project which has involved more than 400,000 students and their teachers across the UK.  Altogether, six performances took place across the country, involving over 900 pupils aged between 6 – 18 years from across across six regions of the country.

St. Alban’s Academy has been the lead school in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre’s Learning and Performance Network for the last three years which has included performing for HRH The Prince of Wales, the RSC’s President, on Monday 2 June 2014.

Developing confidence and self-belief through drama

3 pupils from ARK Rose Primary Academy taking part in the RSC production of 'The Head that Wears a Crown'

Our pupils, led by Year 2 teacher Miss Spencer, worked together as a team and also delivered some amazing individual performances. It is also clear from speaking to pupils the positive effect it has had on them. Kenzy, a pupil in year 4 who played an English soldier, said :

“I’ve really enjoyed  performing Shakespeare. Acting has given me a lot more confidence. I can’t wait to perform in the next Shakespeare play. I hope it will be Macbeth!”

Shauna in Year 6, who played Lady Percy, added:

“I really enjoyed the experience of performing on a real theatre stage. Miss Spencer taught me to be calm and slow down the way I speak so that the audience could hear be more clearly. This is helping me everyday at school.”

Another Year 6 pupil, Mansour, who played Northumberland, said:

“I’m proud of myself for performing at the Swan theatre. I would really like to perform in another Shakespeare play in future.”

Lasting benefits for pupils

ARK Rose Primary Academy roaring into battle as part of the RSC production of 'The Head that Wears a Crown'

Year 2 teacher, Miss Spencer, who supported our pupils throughout the three months of rehearsals and the RSC performance, said:

“I am incredibly proud of all of the pupils who took part in the RSC performance. Each and everyone them put in a huge amount of effort in rehearsals and at home to learn their lines. All their hard work paid off in the accomplished performance they gave at the Swan theatre.

As well as boosting the confidence and communication skills of the pupils who took part in the performance, the RSC project has generated lots of interest in Shakespeare throughout the school as a whole. Since getting back to school, pupils have been enthusiastically asking me when we will be starting on our next play. I am confident this year’s group of performers will inspire many others to take part in future plays we stage at ARK Rose.”

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