TECHNOLOGY has been helping pupils tune into Shakespeare.
The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) and electronics giant Samsung have been collaborating with pupils at Welcombe Hills School in Stratford on bringing Romeo and Juliet to life.
The Blue Cap Road special school is part of the RSC Associate Schools Programme – annually involving 246 schools, almost 1,000 teachers and nearly 140,000 pupils nationally – which aims to widen access to Shakespeare’s work, live theatre and theatre-making.
Over two days more than 180 pupils at Welcombe Hills participated in a range of multi-sensory experiences 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 pupil depending on their needs, which include the likes of Severe Learning Difficulties (SLD) and Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
Samsung Gear 360 cameras were used to help pupils film moments from the play 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.
Pupils also took part in a creative digital costume design activity on the Samsung Flip – taking inspiration from costumes used in previous RSC productions of the classic love story.
And they had the opportunity to create their own text-based soundscapes using music editing apps on Samsung Galaxy tablets.
Staff at the school also introduced classroom-based activities, including getting pupils to design trailers for their own version of the play, mask-making, a multi-sensory exploration of a Verona market place, and creating invitations for Capulet’s ball.
Pupils even took part in Romeo and Juliet activities in the hydrotherapy pool.
And Welcombe Hills went on to join fellow pupils from across the country to present their interpretations of the star-crossed lovers on the RSC’s Swan stage.
Samsung UK director Aleyne Johnson 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.”
Jo Bradley, assistant head at Welcombe Hills School, said it had been a memorable experience.
“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.”