In 2023 we celebrate 400 years since the publication of Shakespeare’s First Folio. The question asked, ‘Why should Playbox Theatre mark this milestone with a unique series of events?’.
The Folio is the collection of 36 Shakespeare plays. If they had not been put together in such a volume, we may have lost them, as copies were essentially ‘stage handbooks’ for actors and not complete texts.
The Folio is a unique collection, and in 2023 we want to enable children, of all ages, to enjoy encounters with the plays in various forms, guises and contexts, from the staging of large- scale productions with the participation of many, to small scale interactive programmes for the very young as introductions to the plays and their themes.
For Playbox Theatre, Shakespeare brings us face to face with the human experience. Life lived and experienced at all levels is the heart of the work and in our planned programme, young people will be engaged at various stages of their development.
Within Playbox we plan to involve over 1,000 members aged 3-21 in tailor made creative experiences. Below is a selection of events planned, and across 2023 more will be added as appropriate.
Launching Folio in October 2022 Playbox Theatre release on-line a digital adaptation of Romeo and Juliet. This was staged as a reading for Stratford Upon Avon fundraising campaign to return a restored statue, The ‘Garrick ‘to the Town Hall. In the studio young people created the digital version with sound designers to mark a special event. This will be in-tandem with an informal experiment on The Tempest made by members of Shakespeare Young Company to reveal hidden themes and mysteries of the great Final Folio Play, a summation of Shakespeare’s life.
December 2022 brings the Folio project centre stage for a full-scale production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream as the Christmas production opening on December 21st. Created for family audiences, many of whom will be seeing Shakespeare for the first time. With adapted text, sumptuous designs and choreography the production is for everyone and a celebration of the Folio events. To accompany Dream, the entire front-of-house will reflect Christmas in Shakespeare’s England.
Moving into the main programme for 2023 Playbox Theatre have planned a wide-ranging programme, combining participation with new approaches to the plays bringing together children, young people, artists, experts and guests to ensure every child can take away a unique memory of their Folio experience.
Two interactive projects based on the plays Mustardseed’s Magical Mahem/My Magic Island where under 5’s visit the worlds of the chosen plays, Dream/Tempest and help the characters solve problems. Both have been seen before in their original versions made by the company and in 2023, they will have new actors and creatives to bring them to our new young participants.
Across all Playbox ages, centres and participatory sessions our creatives will build work inspired by the plays. Whilst some may wander into the confusion of the Forest of Arden others may encounter the difficult gender debates in The Shrew or the parallels between contemporary politics and the Rome of the Caesars. Each encounter planned will be age and need specific.
This will take place over 10 days in Spring.
The gateway to the heart of Shakespeare lies within the collection of Sonnets. Groups of young people aged 15+ will present sonnet events on location across Warwick/Warwickshire. The work will be chosen to fit the location and a digital record will be made to release on www.playboxtheatre.com
This project is supported by The Reynolds Foundation.
Our Foundation Course in Shakespeare will create, in the Studio Theatre, a 40-minute abbreviated version of Richard III following this year’s Hamlet.
Death By Shakespeare an event responding to the recent publication of the book by Kathryn Harkup, which explores medicine and science in Elizabethan times. The event will involve young people staging memorable scenes from the plays, e.g. The Orchard Poison in Hamlet. Kathryn Harkup is to speak on her research and discoveries at a special event held at The Dream Factory on April 23rd 2023.
Across The Dream Factory, Warwick a collection of costumes from Playbox’s Shakespeare Productions since 1999.
King Ram, a children’s show based on King Lear for under 8’s.
In Autumn 2023 the project will close with a large-scale staging of the Orson Welles inspired Chimes at Midnight. The film combines text from Henry IV parts 1 and 2, Richard II and Henry V. Welles was determined to explore the end of the medieval world and the move to the modern through the character of Sir John Falstaff. The production will bring together a large company of young people from across the region to stage the work incorporating video, choreography and music.
In addition, there will be, guest panels of experts to discuss themes in the plays and concerts in partnership with Leamington Music.
The year will enable every young person who encounters our work either as participant or audience, on-line or in person, to enjoy Shakespeare with Playbox.
Creating events and opportunities across a diverse range of participants and audiences is core to the mission of Playbox Theatre.
We believe FOLIO will be a milestone for children and young people in their enjoyment of Shakespeare as a storyteller for all ages and generations.