More than 4500 school children from all over the North enjoy Shakespeare at pop-up theatre

As it enjoys a second season in York at the foot of historic Clifford’s Tower, SHAKESPEARE’S ROSE THEATRE – the award-winning pop-up Shakespearean theatre – has welcomed 4,749 school children and their teachers through its doors, from more than 100 schools across the North of England.

Pupils and teachers from as far afield as York, Leeds, Manchester, Doncaster, Sheffield, Newcastle, Halifax, Middlesbrough, Bradford, Rochdale, Hull, Sunderland, Scarborough, Knaresborough, Scunthorpe, and Harrogate have enjoyed nine morning performances of Hamlet, The Tempest and Twelfth Night. Many of the pupils were watching Shakespeare performed live for the first time.

Of that total, 2,196 pupils were able to attend for free thanks to generous funding from private donors and charities to the Rose Bursary Scheme, which enables disadvantaged children to enjoy the thrill of live theatre in this historic setting.  Every £10 donated enabled a child to attend for free through the Rose Bursary Scheme.

The York season of SHAKESPEARE’S ROSE THEATRE runs until Sunday 1 September 2019, with four new productions: Hamlet, Henry V, The Tempest and Twelfth Night. SHAKESPEARE’S ROSE THEATRE has also expanded this year to a second site in the UK, in the grounds of Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire, with a nine week season running until 7 September, where two companies are performing the repertoire of plays from the first season in York: Romeo & Juliet, Richard III, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Macbeth.

Similarly, at SHAKESPEARE’S ROSE THEATRE at Blenheim Palace, there have been eight morning performances specifically for schools, which have been enjoyed by 3930 pupils and teachers from 6 schools across Oxfordshire. The Rose Bursary scheme enabled 198 of those to attend for free, thanks to funding from the Pye Charitable Settlement Trust.

James Cundall MBE, founder of SHAKESPEARE’S ROSE THEATRE and CEO of Lunchbox Theatrical Productions said, “One of our key aims is to offer comprehensive support for school groups.  We believe that all young people should have the opportunity to attend outstanding theatre, irrespective of their cultural, social or economic background. Therefore, this year once again we ran the Rose Bursary Scheme which enabled schools who would not otherwise be able to visit Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre to apply for free tickets.”

We hope to ignite their imaginations and open their minds to the wonderful experience of live theatre, in a setting that will also be memorable, bringing history to life.”

One of the teachers from Henworth Primary school said, “I was a member of staff accompanying a class of Y 4/5 children from Heworth School to see The Tempest, one of whom is my daughter, who said: “It was amazing!! I really understood the story and I LOVED the set and the songs! My favourite character was Trincolo, but I also really liked Ariel.”

“As a staff member I thought it was an outstanding production and really accessible for the children who were watching it. The children were engrossed throughout and loved the whole experience: the setting, the staging, the costumes, the music – everything!”

The pop-up Shakespearean theatre is constructed using state-of-the-art scaffolding technology, corrugated iron and timber.   Inspired by the Rose Theatre of 1587 in London’s Bankside, SHAKESPEARE’S ROSE THEATRE houses an audience of 900, with 560 seated in three covered tiers around an open-roofed courtyard with standing room for 340 ‘groundlings’.

The theatre is located within a Shakespearean village, bringing an authentic Elizabethan ambience and theatricality to the event, and features:

  • ‘wagon’ performances of Elizabethan-style entertainment, including comic mini-plays and speeches
  • the best Yorkshire food and drinks, housed in the oak-framed and reed-thatched Bear Arms pub
  • an Elizabethan garden created by Yorkshire garden designer Sally Tierney, with ornate box-edged beds of roses, cottage flowers and herbs as well as a water fountain. Mrs Tierney is the winner of a Silver-Gilt medal at the Royal Horticultural Society’s renowned Chelsea Flower Show, and created the Elizabethan garden for SHAKESPEARE’S ROSE THEATRE in York last year to great acclaim.
  • tables and benches around the village, enabling visitors to enjoy the historic atmosphere.

Grand Central Rail, an established train operator on the East Coast line linking York to London, returns in 2019 as title sponsor of SHAKESPEARE’S ROSE THEATRE in York.  Other returning sponsors are Fenwick luxury department store; the Grand Hotel and Spa, York’s only five star hotel; and Yorkshire’s daily national newspaper, The Yorkshire Post, back on board as official media partner.

McArthurGlen Designer Outlet, who join as a sponsor for 2019 and who hosted the rehearsal village for the full company over seven weeks, are also hosting an exhibition of costumes and props from SHAKESPEARE’S ROSE THEATRE.  The items from the 2018 plays of Richard III and Romeo and Juliet can be viewed all summer in Unit 29 at the South Atrium.

The previously announced cast for York includes Maggie Bain (Netflix’s Black Mirror, The End of the F***ing World, film Dark Sense and A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Shakespeare’s Globe) as ‘Henry V’; ITV’s Victoria star David Oakes as ‘Hamlet’; Sam Callis (Game of Thrones, The Bill) as ‘Prospero’ in The Tempest; and returning from last year’s SHAKESPEARE’S ROSE THEATREOlivia Onyehara as ‘Viola’, Mark Holgate as ‘Orsino’, and Leandra Ashton as ‘Olivia’ in Twelfth Night.