Ben Crystal Backs Shakespeare Week
Ben Crystal backs Shakespeare Week (17-23 March)
25 February 2014
Ben Crystal, the actor and author who specialises in bringing Shakespeare to a young generation has joined the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust’s campaign to bring Shakespeare vividly to life for primary school children. Ben has become an ambassador for Shakespeare Week, the new schools and culture campaign which is expected to involve up to half a million children when it kicks off next month (17-23 March).
Ben Crystal is one of the leading lights of the contemporary Shakespeare scene. He is the author of Shakespeare on Toast – Getting a Taste for the Bard (Icon 2008) which was shortlisted for the 2010 Educational Writer of the Year Award. He curated, produced and directed the British Library’s best-selling CD to date, featuring extracts of Shakespeare in Original Pronunciation. Ben and his father David Crystal, a linguist, made headlines worldwide with their video reading of Shakespeare as they believe the famous verses might have been originally heard. His Springboard Shakespeare series for Arden Shakespeare/Bloomsbury has won acclaim as the perfect introduction to the most studied and performed of Shakespeare’s plays (Hamlet, Lear, Macbeth and Midsummer Night’s Dream).
As well as acting and directing, Ben gives workshops on performing Shakespeare around the world.
Commenting on the launch of Shakespeare Week, Ben said, “By the time students get to secondary school, an antipathy towards Shakespeare has often already set in. Shakespeare Week will snip off the Medusa head before the snake-hair sprouts.
With more than 2000 primary schools already signed up to celebrate the first Shakespeare Week, this is a great campaign to encourage younglings to speak and love Shakespeare, free from analytical study. Come on board, join in, and bring a treasure chest of writing to the next generation of Shakespearians."
Teachers in their thousands have signed up to join in this national campaign created by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust and are downloading free resources to plan fun and creative sessions that will introduce Shakespeare to children in their most formative years. From fashion, film-making and fingerpuppets to making a Tudor banquet and learning about the plague flea, Shakespeare will be cropping up in unusual ways across every school subject.
Children can continue their Shakespearean adventure outside school with a Passport to Shakespeare that will give them and their family exclusive discounts and access to special exhibitions, productions and events in theatres, historic sites, museums, galleries, cinemas and libraries during Shakespeare Week and beyond, across the UK. For a full line-up of happenings visit www.shakespeareweek.org.uk
The idea of encouraging young children to have fun with Shakespeare in this way is the brainchild of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust. Jacqueline Green, Head of Learning and Participation at the charity explains why: “Primary school is where magic can still happen, where children are most open to learning new things. We want to open the door to learning about Shakespeare with flexible resources which are free for schools and opportunities for families to try out Shakespeare-related activities and events near where they live.
We’ve been bowled over by the response from schools and cultural organisations to this campaign - it proves that Shakespeare is as popular and relevant as ever.”
Baroness Floella Benjamin is an ambassador for the campaign. In her Queen’s Debate speech on education in the House of Lords, she called for Shakespeare Week to become a permanent fixture in our schools calendar:
“I’m particularly proud to be involved in the Trust’s new national schools and cultural campaign to open up Shakespeare’s legacy to every child in Britain. I have seen at first hand how joyfully and enthusiastically young people react when they are exposed to Shakespeare. Shakespeare Week is a bold and original approach to cultural learning and I hope we can make it a permanent annual celebration that will give our children the chance to feel that they are part of something great.”
For more information visit www.shakespeareweek.org.uk
Notes to Editors:
Shakespeare Week is supportedby public funding from Arts Council England (ACE). The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust was awarded £150,000 from the ACE Renaissance Strategic Fund to support the first two Shakespeare Weeks in 2014 and 2015.
About the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust:
- The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust is the independent charity that cares for the world’s greatest Shakespeare heritage sites, the five Shakespeare family homes in Stratford-upon-Avon, and promotes the enjoyment and understanding of Shakespeare’s works, life and times all over the world.
- The charity runs formal and informal educational programmes for people of all ages.
- It holds the world’s largest Shakespeare-related museum and archives open free to the public, a collection which is designated as being of international importance.
- The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust receives no regular direct government funding or public subsidy; it depends on income generated through the support of visitors, donors, grant funders, volunteers and Friends.
- For further information visit www.shakespeare.org.uk