How Coram SSF helped the students of this special school gain confidence
Calling all alumni... Like Greg, did you take part in the Shakespeare Schools Festival? We're seeking to connect with previous participants to celebrate our 20th anniversary year and would love to hear from you! Get in touch
Alumnus of the Shakespeare Schools Festival alumnus, Greg McClarnon, 26, is a photographer and the founder of Splaat Media. Each year, Splaat Media capture stunning photos from the Festival.
For Greg, taking part in Shakespeare Schools Festival at the age of 11 helped him find his feet at the start of secondary school (Tanbridge House School in Horsham). A few years later, he took on the ambitious role of Student-Director. Here, Greg shares some thrilling Festival moments and explains how the experience helped give him the confidence to get where he is today.
“When I was in year seven, I was in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and I got to play opposite a girl in year 11. That was pretty exciting! She was Helena and I was Demetrius. I also had some great play fight scenes with Lysander. We really hammed it up and got a big laugh from the audience. That felt great!
Being part of the show gave a huge boost to my confidence. Like many children, I found starting secondary school daunting. A drama teacher knew I was interested in acting and encouraged me to take part. It really helped me settle into secondary school. I got to know people all across the school and made new friends.
Performing Shakespeare definitely felt like a step-up. At primary school, I’d performed in A Christmas Carol and another Christmas play called Baboushka. The Shakespearean language was a lot more complex and challenging. I was really lucky to have a teacher who was good at explaining what things meant.
Taking part inspired me to take Performing Arts for GCSE and went on to study drama at A-Level. When I was in year 11, I was involved with the Festival again, this time directing The Taming Of The Shrew. It felt like a big challenge, and I gained so much from it. It gave me the experience of talking to a big group and putting my points across clearly. I also had to think about how to motivate a team. And I developed a lot of technical skills in lighting and sound.
Looking back, I can see the role Festival played in helping me get where I am today. It fuelled my love of drama and directing. I went on to deputy stage manage a school production of Sweeney Todd. While working on this production, I came up with the idea of taking and selling photographs to parents. I photographed the rehearsals and printed the photos to create a display in the foyer. Then I collected orders from parents, printed the photos at the chemist and put them in envelopes myself. My parents drove me to each house to deliver them by hand. Two other local schools saw my photo display in the theatre and asked if I could do the same for their shows and it just gathered momentum from there…
After sixth form, I went on to study Business Studies at the University of Hertfordshire. And from there, I set up Splaat Media. I now manage a team of 40 photographers, who will be taking photographs at performances around the country during the Festival. Having taken part in Shakespeare Schools Festival myself, watching the children perform is extremely special. You see them visibly ‘grow’ on stage. I love that I can still be part of it and look forward to capturing some of the magic on camera this Festival!”
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