Shakespeare Young Company is a unique, and specialist, programme at Playbox Theatre, open to young people who are excited about developing their confidence, skills and techniques to perform, and fully experience, the plays of Shakespeare and his contemporaries.
The programme is led by the original creators of Playbox Theatre, Mary King and Stewart McGill.
Admission to Shakespeare Young Company is by audition, and is available to members of Playbox Theatre who already attend another Playbox workshop. Once accepted onto the programme, the ensemble train across a range of vocal and physical techniques, exploring different approach to rehearsal for theatre, outdoor venues, tours and promenade styles.
In 2018, both ‘Pucks’ and ‘SYC’ created A Midsummer Night’s Dream for performances in USA, and at home in the UK. This specialist department with Playbox Theatre is very popular, introducing many young people to both the plays, and staging styles, of Shakespeare for the 21st century.
SYC is divided into ‘ensembles’. At the introduction stage, we offer Pucks, which provides a thorough grounding for younger people, followed by graduation in the senior SYC core groups.
This is a commitment course and members are expected to attend, without fail, each week.
To find out more about Shakespeare Young Company, please take a look at the FAQs at the bottom of this page.
Please remember, you may only join Pucks/SYC if you already attend an Acting workshop with Playbox Theatre.
Playbox is a very special and magical place for young people of all ages. Young people are free to be creative, be themselves, learn, in a safe and non-judgemental space. A place where lifelong friendships are made, a bond like no other!”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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).
At our theatre, The Dream Factory, in Warwick.
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 £240 per season. For ‘SYC’ the combined fee is £270. Each season runs in conjunction with the school term, so fees are payable three times per year.
If you would like to attend an audition, please email firstname.lastname@example.org 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.