Shakespeare Schools Festival has seen the lives of children all over the country transformed by the power of performing Shakespeare. From building confidence to learning to work within a team, the shared experience of putting on a show can have a lasting impact on the individuals that take part.
Before participating in SSF, one student in particular was struggling to be heard in class.
When he was chosen to play the leading role of Macbeth in his school’s 2012 production, many were concerned on whether Ben would be able to overcome his speech impediment for the performance. For years Ben’s stammer had affected his self-confidence.
By providing a safe and supportive atmosphere in rehearsals, Ben’s fears were soon replaced by confidence and enthusiasm. And by the performance his stammer had completely vanished.
Mark Shenton, Ben’s teacher and director, was astounded at the transformation.
There was one moment when Lady Macbeth was off sick, and he did his scene with her as a monologue, jumping from side to side because he’d learnt all the lines.
Mark Shenton, Ben’s Teacher and Director
Shenton explained why having a clear goal was important in focusing the students:
It’s such an end goal. That bit is the most important, that’s the carrot on the stick. They have to have these incredibly important skills, confidence and teamwork, they learn that they have to have them.
And what about teamwork?
When you start rehearsals you start with a blame culture... by the end of rehearsals that doesn't happen – they’re helping each other and praising each other, they’re really nice to each other, and it is a lasting effect.
Ben’s story demonstates how the SSF process can have a long term impact.
Miss Farag always used to say I had a little voice – now I don’t!
Ben, SSF Student