The first Shakespeare Schools Festival was held in front of a packed audience of hundreds at Neimënster Abbey on Thursday, 12th January.
Organised by St George’s International School Secondary drama teacher, Clare Williams, the festival involved more than 60 students from St George’s, International School Luxembourg (ISL) and the European School, Kirchberg.
The event gave young people the opportunity to play with Shakespeare’s texts, to make them relevant, and to tell the stories their own way, according to festival director Mrs Williams. “Studying Shakespeare is a challenge for anyone,” she said. “The old language can be a barrier to understanding the stories, but when performed on stage, these old stories still entertain and enthrall an audience. Even now, 400 years after Shakespeare’s death, the themes of love, ambition, death, fate and freewill are still relevant.”
Last night’s festival featured six performances, including versions of Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet and Macbeth by St George’s Year 8 students, Macbeth and Romeo and Juliet by ISL students and a small cast of exclusively female actors playing female characters in Julia Caesar by the European School, Kirchberg.
Mrs Williams had the idea for the festival after Covid restrictions stopped her from taking students to participate in the Shakespeare Schools Festival in the UK. Instead she decided to create a version of the festival for students in Luxembourg.
Students from each school worked with their teachers to create their own adaptation of each play. Some featured rap music and dance, others turned a tragedy into a comedy and one explored differences between stereotypical male and female leadership.
As well as adapting and acting in the plays, the students also experienced different theatre roles, such as lighting and sound, costume and props design and choreography.
“It is really exciting to see three schools in Luxembourg come together for this event,” Mrs Williams said. “Confidence, collaboration and articulacy are essential skills for life and it is a joy to see students from St George’s, ISL and the European School, Kirchberg develop these skills as young adults.”