Macbeth workshop with Drumbeat School

This week we have our Workshop Officer, Louise de Froment, telling us about facilitating a session with a Special Educational Needs school in Bromley on Shakespeare's tragedy Macbeth.

We run bespoke SEN projects all year round! Click here for more information and contact Louise to book via [email protected]

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A few weeks ago we delivered a series of Macbeth workshops for Key Stage 3 students at Drumbeat School in Bromley, a Special School for young people with a high level of Autistic need. Several of the students are taking part in our Festival this year, directed by the brilliant SSF veteran Richard Burbage, with the help of his student director.

The experience was completely joyous. Not only was the building incredibly well designed, encompassing a light, airy and welcoming feel, but also the teachers were fantastically supportive of their young learners, offering words of encouragement and allowing each individual to respond to what we were asking of them in their own time and way.

Our workshop consisted of casting a spell and throwing ingredients into our imaginary cauldron, looking into the future and articulating what we might like to become. We also met the key characters in Macbeth and created the world of the heath, through making sounds in response to a selection pictures. Into the cauldron went a cat, a stick-man and spaghetti, and amongst us we had young people who hoped to become singers, runners and dancers, to name but a few.

However, by far my favourite moment came about towards the end of one our sessions. At this point in the workshop we asked each group: “Who would like to try becoming Macbeth?” This involved donning a costume (a soldier’s jacket), walking through the ‘heath’, (made up of the rest of the group), and being crowned King at the end with the whole cohort bowing and uttering ‘your majesty’ in unison.

The girl who chose to be Macbeth in one of the workshops had been very reserved the rest of the session, almost mute. However, as soon as she had the jacket on she entirely transformed and we couldn’t stop her! She marched boldly around the heath not once but three times, triggering her peers to make responsive noises as she passed them. Even on taking off the jacket she marched out of the door to her next lesson in Macbeth fashion, completely immersed in the character.

This was a wonderful example of the magical, positive outcomes which engaging with drama and Shakespeare can bring, allowing a young person that extra bit of confidence or simply offering a new way to express themselves.

If this young girl could go from seemingly reticent to becoming Macbeth - beginning to understand the complexity of the story and character, as well as suddenly connecting more readily with her physical expression, what else could she achieve? It seems the aspiration opened up is endless.

A quote from Richard:

"Thank you so much Louise and Francesca for the great workshop you hosted with our Key Stage 3 students earlier this month. It has really fired up the students and staff with some very simple ideas that we are starting to use in our rehearsals. We especially liked the soundscape of the Heath we could create by making 'eerie' sounds. It also helped that you incorporated in parts of our adaptation so that the students could immediately connect with parts of the play with which they were already familiar. The witches spell and saying 'Your majesty' really caught their imagination!"

 

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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