How CSSF supported this student's development
At Coram Shakespeare Schools Foundation, we are pleased to be taking the opportunity, on the final day February, to look back on LGBTQ+ month and focus our commitment to serving our diverse community. This is a great chance for us to reflect on the unique potential Shakespeare, and our extensive work with young people, offers us to simultaneously celebrate the ongoing successes of the queer community and identify areas in which we must continue to strive for better.
Ideas of gender and sexuality have permeated the Shakespearean canon for as long as it has existed. As women were not permitted as actors in Renaissance England performances were conducted by all male companies. This is both an important example of gender performance, the use of drag and other art forms in Shakespeare, and, perhaps most importantly, an inherent flexibility to casting and interpretation of his plays with regards to topic of identity.
It is this playfulness that we champion within our school's rehearsal rooms. We are committed to and passion about promoting a space in which everyone has the opportunity to explore the possibilities of Shakespeare in a creative and safe environment. This involves the freedom to cast outside of the traditional binaries and to find an interpretation of the play that feels authentic and important to the young people involved. We have seen some incredible LGBTQ+ interpretations within the festival. From Romeo and Juliet performed by two male identifying young people to a female identifying Hamlet. We are always so excited by the fresh perspective our young people can bring to these established stories, highlighting the universality of their themes and an ever-renewing purpose to working with Shakespeare.
It is important, though, that this commitment goes beyond the stage. We are working extensively with our schools to ensure that we provide appropriate spaces for all of our young people in backstage areas to promote inclusivity and create an environment that everyone feels welcome and comfortable within. We want all the young people involved in our programmes to know that they are supported and are taking part in a project which will empower them to express themselves and their identities.
At CSSF we believe that representation matters. Shakespeare is for everyone and we will continue to use our platforms and programmes to promote an inclusive space for all. We hope you've had a happy LGBTQ+ month!