I am a teacher-librarian at Bankstown West Public School. When The Players first visited in 2015, their performance broke open our expectations and helped us to see that our primary students, wanted access to this body of work we had assumed was beyond their ability to understand.
Bell Shakespeare has inspired our teachers and students in so many ways. They have given us fantastic ways to open up modern literature and connect texts back to Shakespeare. Teachers will stand up with me and enact scripts and point fingers at me and let the kids laugh at them, pretend to die and declare their love and all sorts of things. They don’t hold back, I see close to 100% of kids actively engaged, and that is just a perfect teaching opportunity.
After a recent performance of Just Romeo and Juliet! An eight-year-old approached me at the school gate and said “it’s a love story that went badly wrong isn’t it?” How wonderful that these experiences inspire young people to think about what they have seen and use Shakespeare to understand the human condition.
On the basketball court, two six-year-olds were having a disagreement over a basketball. As one of them stormed off, the other called after “there is no need to be a Queen Titania about it!” What a wonderful thing to be able to associate squabbling characters with your own world-view.
Because of Bell Shakespeare’s performances, kids have had experiences each year for the last five years, that have built on, and once they go to high school they’re not going to have to worry about laying the foundations. One of our girls came back and she said ‘In Year 7, Mrs Floyd, I was the only one who didn’t get all muddled up, I was the only one who knew something, I wasn’t concerned about doing Shakespeare. I could find myself in it.”
Bell Shakespeare offers students equity of access, no matter their background. They remind us we can all receive the gifts from the past. Kids need to see plays to encourage them to think bigger about the possibilities of their lives. Experiences like these open up so many opportunities and can inspire young people to take a risk and feel confident about what they can offer the world.
By supporting Bell Shakespeare, you are giving a gift to the community and enabling children to get a taste of the great cannon of Shakespeare that is so relevant to our lives today.
To support Bell Shakespeare, you can donate online or contact our Philanthropy Team via email or phone at 02 8298 9080.