Chicken Shop Shakespeare

This week saw the start of an exciting new schools project led by the Festival in partnership with upcoming theatre company Chicken Shop Shakespeare. Project Coordinator Jenny Harris tells us more about what’s involved.

Chicken Shop Shakespeare grew out of young Leeds-based actors Shane Welsh and Lladel Bryant’s love of filming themselves performing Shakespeare in modern, unexpected urban settings, “when we first started shooting Shakespeare in Chicken Cottage, all the lads in the street thought we were shooting a grime video. We felt the pieces had something… and it grew from there; working in new locations, bringing in a larger cast and learning about Shakespeare”.

Since then Chicken Shop have developed their unique take on flash mobs and filmed excerpts of classic Shakespeare texts using local actors.

This autumn we’re taking the Chicken Shop approach into schools and working with Lladel and Shane to develop their practice in educational settings.  We’ll be working in 3 very diverse schools – Ilkley Grammar School, Allerton High School in Leeds and Dixons Kings Academy in Bradford and trying out different approaches in all three.  The work will culminate in the making of short films and screening/performances at a sharing event in the new year.

Monday saw us start the project at Dixons Kings Academy in central Bradford with 15 pupils from Year 8.  During this first session Lladel and Shane introduced the project and started to work with the pupils on drama-based games, looking at how characters are brought to life through different styles of dramatic delivery.  We’ll be working with the Dixons Kings group on excerpts from The Tempest so we also talked briefly about some of the play’s key themes.  Over the next six weeks Chicken Shop will pick monologues and duologues from the text and encourage pupils to make the words physical and to think about how they want to respond creatively.  Pupils will then film each other performing around the school grounds and share these short films with their peers.

If through the project we can support pupils, especially boys at risk of disengaging with the English curriculum, to connect with Shakespeare in ways that are meaningful to them then that will be a real result for us and our partner schools.  We’ll keep you posted on progress as the project develops across all three schools.

In the meantime, don’t miss Chicken Shop Shakespeare’s Lladel Bryant in Nine Lives at Ilkley Playhouse, as part of this year’s Literature Festival on Saturday 3 October at 8pm.

Nine Lives is a new play written by Leeds-based Zodwa Nyoni, and I can’t recommend it enough – I was lucky enough to see it earlier this year.  It’s a very human story of what it’s like to be seeking asylum in the UK and brilliantly acted.  It’s been getting rave reviews and is about to go on a national tour around the UK.  You can find out more in the trailer below:

For more information and to book tickets for Nine Lives click here.