Royal Shakespeare Company And Samsung Help Bring Romeo And Juliet To Life Through A Digital Takeover At Welcombe Hills School
London UK – Tuesday 18th July – Samsung Electronics UK and the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) have been collaborating with students at Welcombe Hills School in Stratford-Upon-Avon, a special school for students aged 3-19, on bringing Shakespeare’s classic love story, Romeo and Juliet, to life. The school’s pupils have a wide range of additional needs including complex Moderate Learning Difficulties (MLD), Severe Learning Difficulties (SLD) and Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
Welcombe Hills School is the first Lead Special School in the RSC Associate Schools Programme, powered by Samsung. The Associate Schools Programme – involving 246 schools, almost 1000 teachers and nearly 140,000 students every year – aims to widen access to Shakespeare’s work, live theatre and theatre-making.
Over two days in June, over 180 students at Welcombe Hills participated in a wide range of immersive and multi-sensory experiences in order to explore the themes, characters and key scenes in Romeo and Juliet. Throughout the activity innovative technology was used to tailor the experience for each student depending on their needs. With the support of RSC Education Associate Practitioners, every student was able to take part in sessions that enabled them to explore Shakespeare’s text through the use of technology and engage in the world of the play through the eyes of different characters.
Samsung Gear 360 cameras were used to help students film moments from the play that were being explored by their peers and then put themselves in the heart of the action through viewing the footage on the immersive Gear VR headsets. Students were also invited to take part in a creative digital costume design activity on the Samsung Flip – taking inspiration from costumes used in previous RSC productions of Romeo and Juliet. Students also had the opportunity to create their very own text-based soundscapes using easy to use music editing apps on Samsung Galaxy tablets.
Staff at the school also delivered classroom-based activities to engage students in the play, including designing trailers for their own version of Romeo and Juliet, mask-making, a multi-sensory exploration of a Verona marketplace, and creating invitations for Capulet’s ball. Students even took part in Romeo and Juliet activities in the hydrotherapy pool.
After the visit from Samsung and the RSC in June, Welcombe Hills Schools then joined 536 Associate Schools pupils from across the country in early July to present their interpretations of Romeo and Juliet on the RSC’s Swan stage.
Aleyne Johnson, Director of Government Relations & External Relations, Samsung UK said, “We are proud to support the RSC’s fantastic outreach programme enabling children and young people across the country to engage with vital cultural experiences that enrich our lives. It’s been rewarding to see how technology can play a role in widening access and tailoring learning for students at Welcombe Hills and we hope they had a memorable time.”
Georgia White, RSC Regional Associate Schools Manager, said, “As the only Lead Special School in the RSC’s Associate Schools Programme, Welcombe Hills continues to demonstrate a wonderful range of creative ways of introducing Shakespeare to all of the students at the school, adapting activities to meet the different needs of their students.
“The two days were a fantastic opportunity to bring Romeo and Juliet to life for 181 students in a way that was vivid, accessible and enjoyable for all. Staff at the school worked extremely hard to ensure that the students were engaging in activities that introduced or developed their understanding of the text, themes, characters and key scenes in the play. The different uses of technology in each of the activities really helped to immerse the students in the play, offering experiences that could be adapted for all.”
Jo Bradley, Assistant Headteacher, Welcombe Hills School, said, “Our long-standing relationship with the RSC has enabled our students to bring Shakespeare to life through multi-sensory approaches. Pupils have enjoyed playing with the language and exploring the themes of many of Shakespeare’s plays throughout their time at school. The Romeo and Juliet takeover was a true collaboration where we were able to explore how technology can play a part in engaging pupils with Shakespeare’s work. Pupils of all ages and abilities were immersed in the world of the play: each classroom became a different setting in the play, and actors and teachers worked in role. It was a truly memorable experience which saw an increase in pupil engagement and communication.”
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