• Tom Doona

The Children's Shakespeare Festival: Dream At Home - Creating content in the times of COVID.

The Children’s Shakespeare’s Festival, run yearly by North West Drama since 2009, consists of (and I quote!) “large-scale inter-school festivals which aim to inspire an excitement in Shakespeare’s plays and the use of education Drama as a tool for deep and active learning. It is a range of projects which combine cross-curricular, classroom activity with performance by children in professional theatre spaces”. Between the beginning of the calendar year and the close of the academic year, primary school teachers and their students go on a journey of exploration and development, led by an incredible team of drama practitioners from North West Drama. They learn about, explore and restructure one Shakespeare play, in preparation for a professionally produced performance at one of the North West’s major theatres. Over the previous few years, I (Tom Doona, Head of Production at City Projections) have been lucky enough to work alongside the festival in a few video productions, and can personally attest to how valuable and unique the festival is to everyone who takes part in it.

But, of course, this year the festival was impacted by the pandemic; forcing a few changes. One of the most prominent of those changes was the fact that face-to-face, in-class sessions were likely to be hampered by the need for social distancing and strict safety measures. Therefore, we offered our filmmaking hand in producing five videos which, in the event that students can not experience the scheme of work in-class, will offer them the opportunity to explore the work from home. And hopefully in a way that closely emulates the interactivity and excitement that the festival is renowned for.


In October, we spent two days filming a mass of content in an atmospheric village hall in Leek, and since then that content has been put through the strainer of post-production, to settle on five short videos. Each one explores a different part of the play, which this year is A Midsummer Night’s Dream. From talking heads, through to full stage play performances and puppetry, the videos offer a unique take on the scheme of work. The experience of producing videographic work aimed at a demographic of primary school children is always an exciting challenge. From the original scripting (written by Matt Wardle, Creative Producer of North West Drama) through to the pacing of the video edit, it is crucial to prioritise the content of the videos; while also offering that content in the highest possible quality and grade. This, as well as producing such content in a safe and secure way with regards to COVID regulations, is a challenge that we welcomed with open arms.


To read further into the festival, its history, its qualities and the amazing team behind it, please go to North West Drama’s website at the following link:


https://www.northwestdramaservices.co.uk/


The five videos can now be found on our website, and will be used by school children across the North West throughout the school term. Enjoy!