Shakespeare at Magdalen College Oxford

Coram Shakespeare Schools Foundation saw out the Spring '24 Theatre Festival with a trip to Magdalen College Oxford, as part of an access to higher education project run in collaboration with the outreach team at the college. The scheme was made possible by the generosity of Magdalen alumnus Steven Parker.

Magdalen College Oxford

The programme, which has just wrapped up its third year, sees participating teachers follow the same journey as those at any other Festival school, coming together for a Teacher-Director Workshop to kick off and welcoming our facilitators into their schools to run a workshop for the students. Rather than performing in a local professional venue, however, casts of up to 15 Year 10 students visit Magdalen College Oxford for a three-day residential experience.

During the residential, the young people live like Oxford students. They sleep in student accommodation, eat in the 16th century hall, attend lectures on their play by a Shakespeare academic, and go on tours of Oxford and the college. The young people also enjoyed a printing workshop where they created their own Shakespeare Schools at Magdalen bookplates, and a chance to explore the library which houses a copy of Shakespeare’s Fourth Folio as well as an early quarto of The Duchess of Malfi and other rare manuscripts.

Smiling teenagers in costumes and backwards baseball caps run at each other on a theatre stage.

This year we welcomed three schools from Nottinghamshire – Farnborough Spencer Academy, Nottingham Free School and Outwood Academy Kirkby, as well as a cast of students representing Leicestershire Virtual School which oversees the education of young people in the county who have experience of the care system. The schools were chosen because they had never taken part in the Festival before and do not have a history of sending pupils on to highly selective universities. We saw a diverse and inventive range of productions: a magical interpretation of The Tempest, a dark and brooding Macbeth, a 90s high school themed Much Ado, and a totally reimagined meta-theatrical A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

The young people performed in Magdalen’s auditorium to an audience comprised of parents and carers, friends and supporters, college staff and local Oxford residents. They did an incredible job, and we’re already looking forward to seeing the wonderful things they go on to achieve in the future - and to returning to Oxford next year!

‘It was one of the best experiences of my teaching career. Seeing our students come out of their shell and the pride they had in their performance was incredible’
Coram Shakespeare Schools Foundation Teacher-Director

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About our impact

Coram SSF is a cultural education charity that exists to instil curiosity and empathy, aspiration and self-esteem, literacy and teamwork - giving young people the confidence to see that all the world is their stage.

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