Be a Shakespearo!
The English Faculty is getting ready to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death on Saturday 23 April. To mark this occasion we have created our very own ‘Shakespearo’ display in the English corridor. When they returned to school after the Easter holidays, pupils were amazed to discover a combination of lifelike William Shakespeare and superhero!
Originally inspired by the 1977 Stranglers' song ‘No More Heroes’ (“Whatever happened to the heroes? All the Shakespearos?”) he is a combination of lifelike William Shakespeare and superhero, complete with six-pack.
At Deer Park pupils study Shakespeare’s work in every year. Year 7s are currently immersed in the magic and mayhem of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream'. Our priority is for them to develop confidence when analysing Shakespeare’s language, as well as enjoying a range of lively activities. A study of ‘Much Ado about Nothing’ follows in Year 8. Pupils particularly enjoy creating masks for the characters, writing a commentary to accompany their creation and then taking part in a Tudor fashion show. By the time our pupils reach Year 9 they are able to answer GCSE style questions about ‘Romeo and Juliet’. Some of them can be seen below taking part in a trial entitled: “Who was to blame for the tragedy?”
In 2017 Year 11 pupils will sit a GCSE English Literature exam in which they will have to answer questions on a Shakespeare play. This exam replaces the Controlled Assessment (5000 word essay produced in 4 hours with access to the texts). Now, more than ever, it is crucial that pupils feel comfortable reading and understanding Shakespeare’s words.
GCSE exam aside, why do we place so much emphasis on studying Shakespeare’s work? Ben Johnson, a fellow playwright, described him as “not of an age, but for all time” and it is the way he summarises the whole range of human emotions that makes his work so valuable for young people today. Compelling characters and great stories – the body count in his plays is often spectacularly high (see the pie chart below) - hold our attention. He has made a significant contribution to the English language we use today, creating a vast number of phrases and words in popular use.
In fact, our Shakespearo is surrounded by examples of these as well as important quotations and interesting facts that we hope will spark the pupils’ enthusiasm and encourage them to take up our challenge to ‘Be a Shakespearo!’
If you happen to be in London for the weekend of 23-24 April, you might be interested in The Complete Walk on the Southbank - 37 plays, 37 films, 37 screens. These 10 minute films will play on large screens all weekend along the banks of the Thames, between Westminster Bridge and Tower Bridge. Alternatively on Saturday 23 April, Shakespeare Live! will be broadcast from the RSC in Stratford - hosted by David Tennant and screened live to cinemas and BBC 2 from 8.30pm.