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First encounters of the Shakespeare kind

The Royal Shakespeare Company is taking its First Encounters production of The Comedy Of Errors, aimed primarily at 7-13 year-olds, into schools as far afield as Tyneside and Kent, and Sydenham Primary School in Leamington, (Tuesday, October 16), Newburgh Primary School in Warwick (Wednesday, October 17) and Nuneaton's Michael Drayton Junior School (Monday, 22 October) are all on the list of tour venues.

A key feature of the First Encounters productions, which are edited versions of the plays, using Shakespeare's original language, is that local young people must be involved in the production. Each performance will feature a team of up to twenty young people from the locality taking part in one of the play's opening speeches, and schools will also be invited to decorate parts of the set to reflect their home town.

Jacqui O'Hanlon, RSC Director of Education, said, "Many of us have our first encounter with Shakespeare at school, an experience which can define our attitude to live theatre and to Shakespeare for all of our lives. That twenty per cent of returning audiences have had their first encounter with theatre through these tours is testament to the profund impact that partnerships between schools and theatres can have on local communities; partnerships forged out of a shared vision for education in which access to the arts plays a central part."

The Comedy Of Errors will feature a cast of eight actors and actor-musicians and is directed by Alex Thorpe, making his RSC directing debut. The production will also be given public performances at The Swan Theatre, Stratford on October 19/20 and October 25-27. Tickets from the box office on 01789 403493 or online at

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