During 2011 and 2012 the Arts Council commissioned the writing of the following Report:
“Review of theatrical presentations of curriculum plays for second-level school audiences”
Cyclone Rep was one of the companies that were reviewed in this report. We had to submit some answers to a number of questioned raised and also Arts Council advisors came to see our performances.
Here is a copy of the relevant sections of the report concerning our work:
4.2 Workshop-style presentations of Shakespeare plays for school audiences
In recent years, a number of theatre companies have begun to offer workshop-style presentations of Shakespeare plays, which are either prescribed for the Leaving Certificate or suggested at Junior Certificate level. Cyclone Repertory offers a menu of Shakespeare ‘Sessions’ to schools. During the course of this review, ‘Sessions’ based on Romeo and Juliet, The Merchant of Venice, Hamlet, and Macbeth were presented by the company.
The submission from Cyclone Repertory states:
The Cyclone approach to Shakespeare’s plays, which includes interaction, participation and discussion, invites the learners into active engagement with Shakespeare’s world and helps them to make sense of complex language and themesin a post-modern presentation that is enjoyable and aidsthe learner in making connections between text and performance. This was aptly commented on by Tracy Irish, Royal Shakespeare Company’s Educational Branch Director, as: A three-dimensional essay of Shakespeare’s plays.
In describing the company’s artistic and/or educational aims, Cyclone notes
A significant factor in aiding learner experience and appreciation of Shakespeare relies on how it is transmitted. For example, isit the modern learner-centred mode of interaction (inviting the learner to participate)? Or isit the old-fashioned dogmatic form of presentation, keeping the learner at a distance from the presenter (i.e. as a performer who does not connect with the audience or as a teacher imparting knowledge)? Our approach is the former, learner-centred form. With this in mind our artistic and educational aims are:
• To inspire in learners an enthusiasm and enjoyment of the theatrical experience
• Enable learner understanding of challenging texts
• Enhancing and stimulating learner understanding of central themes by
promoting learner connections between the texts and their own personal
• Inviting learner interaction, participation and discussion during performance
in order to establish a less dogmatic education and theatrical model22
In choosing to describe young people as‘learners’ as opposed to ‘students’ the company emphasises that A learner is a person who is an active participant and contributor rather the old order version of a learner (aka student) who is seen as someone who is expected to follow instructions without questioning, absorb the information like a sponge and regurgitate it on exam papers.
5.3.2 Workshop-style presentations
The teachers providing input responded positively to workshop-style presentations. They welcomed initiatives that show an understanding of the themes and issues students need to explore for their exams, and that make this analysis lively and engaging for students. Both Cyclone and Theatre Royal’s approach were referenced independently by a number of teachers as offering an engaging model for students
For a link to the full report, please click here