Shakespeare Young Company FAQs

Shakespeare Young Company was launched by Playbox Theatre in 2008 and is the only programme of work of its kind in UK – devoted to exploring the work of Shakespeare and his contemporaries, with young people. It is one of the most exciting aspects of Playbox’s work and a department that we are enormously proud of! To be a member of SYC is a large and serious commitment, so do read our FAQs to find out if it’s right for you.

Do I need to audition to become a member of SYC? Yes! Unlike the Theatre Training workshops, you will need to audition to become a part of this programme of work. Potential members will need to prepare 15 lines of Shakespeare and attend one of our auditions. Auditions are held twice per year at The Dream Factory. Places are very limited and only a small number will be invited to join each year.

What will happen if I audition but I’m not accepted? Can I apply again? Of course – many return with a vengeance! We can only offer a small number of places following each audition, so you should adopt a very persistent attitude – as would be reflected in the adult arts world.

Can I join Shakespeare Young Company without being a member of another Playbox Theatre workshop? No – SYC is a special programme that is only available to fully registered members of Playbox Theatre. Work in this programme builds upon experiences and techniques gained in the Theatre Training Programme. It doesn’t replace this core work.

Who will be running my SYC workshop? The course is directed by Playbox’s Consultant & Executive Directors, Stewart McGill and Mary King. Stewart and Mary are also the Founding Directors of Shakespeare Young Company itself. Occasionally, colleagues from across the industry will join the team to offer specialist approaches to specific modules. Every element of the course is created under the directors’ supervision. To find out more about Stewart and Mary, please have a look at their biographies on the ‘Team’ page of our website.

What type of material will I explore in SYC? Is it only Shakespeare? Shakespeare is at the heart of this course, but we do reach out to his contemporaries, those who influenced him and those her were influenced by him. Recently we have cast our eyes on Seneca, Marlowe, Kyd, Webter and as far back as Chaucer. Shakespeare cannot exist within a bubble of his own, and we enjoy exploring his work in relation to those of other influential, classical authors.

What is the difference between ‘Pucks’ and ‘SYC’? Both courses are a part of Shakespeare Young Company. ‘Pucks’ is the foundation programme – generally, but not exclusively, for younger members. Everyone must take part in ‘Pucks’ before moving up to the full SYC session. Within ‘Pucks’, actors explore text, themes and potential staging, working at a high level, but always appropriate for their age and experience. ‘Pucks’ is the gateway to SYC and is absolutely vital to the training.

Is there a lot of text work in the programme? Unlike the Theatre Training workshops, text is the root of ‘SYC’ and will always be the core of the training. From the plays to the sonnets, poems and source material, SYC explores, decodes, pulls apart and reimagines the text.

I don’t know much about Shakespeare – can I still join the group? Of course – this is not a workshop for academics! SYC welcomes young people with a burning desire to explore, experiment and argue about the playwright, his times and his works. We would need all members to care passionately about the work we are exploring…and to really devote themselves to the material.

What might a typical SYC workshop involve? Whilst there is no set format for a workshop, you can expect your session to involve voice, text, movement, argument and discussion…with themes being explored and many ideas being tried. Your workshop will never be predictable.

Will I get to perform as a member of SYC? Each year we stage one or two major productions, alongside studio shows, with possible outdoor and touring options. This year, we will be performing A Midsummer Night’s Dream, as our largescale work, and Shakespeare’s Lost Children as an intensive promenade work for a conference at University Of Warwick. On Midsummer Night, our creation ‘Ring Of Fire’ will play at midnight…so you can see that there are lots of opportunities to share work. We must point out that the major productions are auditioned for, and are usually open to the wider population of Playbox. Casting and roles are not guaranteed when the audition is open to all members.

Will my parents have the chance to see what I’ve been working on? As with all Playbox Theatre training programmes, the studio doors will open from time to time, for invited guests to come and see what you’ve been working on, in addition to specific presentations.

Do I need to come to SYC every week? Absolutely! This is a commitment group and you will be expected to attend without fail. Being a member of this programme must become an absolute priority for you and your family, as  your absence will impact greatly upon the group, and upon your own development. If you do not attend a workshop, you may lose your place on the course.

What will happen if I have to miss a few sessions, because of other commitments? We do need to stress that full attendance is vital. If a problem arises this must always be discussed immediately with both the member and their parent. We remind SYC members not to over-commit to other projects, both within – and outside – Playbox Theatre. Failure to make the full commitment is likely to result in you losing your place on the course.

Will I be expected to do homework between workshops? We don’t call it ‘homework’ but we do encourage you to read and research around the work that we’re exploring. This will be advised from time to time and will serve to maximise your experience of the programme. Of course, if there are lines to be learnt, this will be essential!

What is the age range of the group? Pucks is generally 9+, with the SYC workshops having members aged 14-21 yrs. The age guidelines are flexible and will depend upon the individual’s audition and progress.

What should I wear to my workshop? Please come ready to undertake intensive, physical and vocal work. Comfortable rehearsal clothing is essential and if a member is attending directly from school you must bring a change of clothing with you. Please do not work in a school uniform.

Do I need to bring anything specific with me to my training? Members will be asked to bring their scripts and other written material. You should make yourself an SYC folder, to keep everything in order.  You should also bring something to write with. We also suggest a copy of Shakespeare’s Sonnets and The Complete Works will be lifelong texts to own!

If I audition for a Shakespeare production with Playbox, and I’m a member of SYC, will I definitely be cast in the show? We always encourage our SYC members to audition for our Shakespeare productions, and we hope that you will be very successful in casting. However, our casting policy needs to be fair and there are many criteria that we need to apply. Your chances are good, as you will already have lots of experience, but there are no guarantees. For more information on our casting process, please look at the Casting FAQs.

Do graduates if SYC go on to work in the industry? Many members of SYC go on to enjoy successful careers in the arts. Each year we see a good number gaining places at UK’s top drama schools and universities and it is always a pleasure to follow their work with pride. Most recently, Ralph Davis made his ‘Globe’ debut as Edmund in King Lear, following his graduation from RADA – he is one example of a large number of successful SYC graduates (some others include Ferdinand Kingsley, Joshua McGuire, Daniel West, Owen Young and William Belchambers).

Where do SYC workshops take place? At our theatre, The Dream Factory, in Warwick.

How much does it cost to join SYC? We offer a combined price, to cover both your membership of Playbox Theatre Training Workshop, as well as your SYC training. For ‘Pucks’ the combined fee is £195 per season. For ‘SYC’ the combined fee is £215. Each season runs in conjunction with the school term, so fees are payable three times per year.

I’m ready to make the leap! How do I join? If you would like to attend an audition, please email info@playboxtheatre.com and we will let you know when the next casting workshop is taking place. If you are not currently a member of Playbox Theatre, please contact us to discuss which centre would work best for you, as you will need to be fully registered and regularly attending, before auditioning for Shakespeare Young Company.

We look forward to welcoming newcomers to SYC and, alongside the exploration of theatre practice, it is one of Playbox’s most active social gatherings with friends made for life!