Mad Blood Stirring: Beyond the show

Written by Andrea
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19th February 2019

Our production Romeo and Juliet – Mad Blood Stirring has had some great feedback so far from schools, family audiences and critics. We’ve loved taking it to young people across the UK – seeing the reactions and hearing the responses.

Alongside The Albany and The Core at Corby Cube, we also toured to Z-arts in Manchester, Warwick Arts Centre in Coventry, New Theatre Royal in Portsmouth. The project ended with the Oxford Playhouse (at St Alban’s Church) during Shakespeare Week – an annual national celebration of Shakespeare’s life and work for primary-aged children.

We wanted to take you ‘backstage’ to the work that we did with schools around the play in line with Shakespeare Week. Whilst the theatre experience is at the heart of the programme, Contender Charlie’s work centres around the ‘Mythodrama technique’ – using Shakespeare’s plays as a starting point and metaphor for things in our everyday life.

A young man dressed in a Friar outfit with his hand raised. There is a cross visible on a brick wall behind him.

© The Other Richard

The main aim of our education package is to give students the opportunity to relate Shakespeare’s story back to their lives. Romeo and Juliet isn’t just a loved classic, it is also a play about young people – it’s about falling in love for the first time, dealing with pressures from your parents, facing up to/backing away from conflict or peer pressure. With that in mind, we really wanted to make it for young people and ensure that both the show and its resources speak to 9-13 year olds today.

With Mad Blood Stirring we’re looking at these ideas through the post-show workshop and online resources (with linked teacher CPD).

Straight after the show, students are invited to ask the characters questions about their motivations and also the actors questions about theatre craft itself. Some of the questions we’ve had have been:

  • Tybalt, why are you such a jerk?
  • Romeo, your quite fickle, do you think you were really in love with Juliet or did you just fancy her?
  • Juliet, why are your parents so mean?
  • How did you manage with the Shakespearian language?
  • Are the knives sharp? Or real?

Back in the classroom, schools can use our interactive online resource, which has been created on C&T’s Prospero platform. They can explore key themes and characters within the play and there is audio and images of scenes to help remind them of certain moments. The resource has been designed to be flexible, speak to students directly and uses a range of practical, written and discussion based activities. These can be done in the classroom, school hall, individually or in groups.

Not only do we hope that this will continue the exploration of the play within the classroom and give teachers a range of ways into themes, characters and writing techniques – we also hope it will encourage pupils to think about their own emotions, relationships and actions.

Schools can also complete their Arts Award Discover or Explore during the project too with our bespoke log books. For those doing Explore, this means that they could also gain a national qualification.

Go to our Schools & Colleges page to find out more about our schools programme.

Photo: Nathan Medina playing The Friar, in Romeo & Juliet – Mad Blood Stirring [Top], two images from the Romeo & Juliet – Mad Blood Stirring interactive online resource [Bottom] and video trailer by RB Films.