Romeo and Juliet, true love?
Are Romeo and Juliet really the most romantic of all lovers? Or is their love more folly, infatuation and teenage angst?
Hi I am Louisa and the following is a blog that I wrote detailing my experiences of Shakespeare in the special needs classroom. Students with special needs and challenging behaviours deserve to learn through subject matter of the highest quality..therefore Shakespeare.
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Right... here goes. I have never blogged before but I have decided to give this a go because I have just registered for the Shakespeare Schools Festival for the fourth time. I teach Drama, amongst other things, in a special school. In 2005 I was providing classroom cover for the deputy head's PPA time with a group of 12-14 year olds, and was giving them some Macbeth. The invitation from the SSF turned up in someone's pigeon-hole and got passed on to me. It was the first I'd heard of it and I spent a while debating it, (doing a bit of a Hamlet, yes/no!) and eventually gave them a ring... just to find out more about it, as you do. Anyway, they were so keen when they heard that I was at a special school (wanting to open the festival to as varied a range as possible) that I approached the head. She was not keen! Financing would be a problem, about £600 then, persuading parents to allow our students to take part would be another, and getting support staff to give up their own time, unpaid (money again) would be impossible. Also, 'It was not appropriate for our pupils' it was that comment that put my back up! That was when I decided that I was going to try and make it happen.
Obviously I solved these problems, or I wouldn't be writing this now, but it was quite a journey. We did 3 years: Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet. Then took a year off as the school expanded to include a sixth form (16 to 19). By popular request; students, teachers, and TAs, we are going for it again. Don't know which play yet, or how it will go but each time has been different and hugely rewarding so I thought that a record of the process might be of interest to other people who are getting involved, or in our line of work? I'd welcome any comments or sharing of experiences.
I'll say now, for the benefit of anyone who's an SSF virgin- go for it. I was so scared and I felt so overwhelmed by the problems that I asked myself on a very regular basis 'What have I got myself into?' sometimes I woke up in the night worrying about it. You have to talk the leadership into it, you have to persuade the support staff to support you, without pay, and I forked out my own money for thank you bottles of wine. I had to write begging letters to local firms to sponsor us, I rang the parents, individually, and persuaded them to consider it, I negotiated with the other teachers to let me have key stage 3 and 4 students, then I had to negotiate again to get the hall time to rehearse; I found, made and begged costumes and props, and in between rang the SSF guys and panicked. They were fantastic, constantly reassuring, giving me support and bending over backwards to help. Well, we did it, and it happened, and it was brilliant. Most of the students made it to the stage and did the performance. They have never forgotten it, they grew through the process, the parents and the staff involved were blown away. They cried and hugged me and said that they couldn't believe it. But it was so. Even the students who couldn't go on the night had been a part of the journey and the learning process, and made huge progress so that when we started again the following year, they were able to go all the way. The aftermath of the whole SSF experience changed a lot of stuff for me, other staff, especially for the TAs involved and the school generally. Since that first time I have never had to raise the money, it automatically comes out of the budget, the TAs and other teachers happily give up their own time, without pay, to support the performance, I have as many students as I will take for my drama sessions, more and more families, staff, governors, and partner schools want to attend the performances and to share the experience with us.
After the performance, on the night, the guy who was assessing us all and giving us some feedback, ( I can't remember who he was, I was so wired that night!) came and found me privately and said ' I just wanted to say that you have produced an extraordinary piece of theatre, it's the best thing I've seen from a school in a long while'. Then I realised that what we did with drama was completely different, and far more worthwhile than how it happens in mainstream, and I felt that we should keep on doing it, and maybe they would learn from us. I believe that the SSF is making this happen.
How to decide on a play? Well, the 3 that we've done were all tragic. That can be an advantage because you are dealing with seriously heavy and well-defined emotions.
Macbeth's ambition was an obvious one...the students could understand that being king was something that he would want badly enough to do bad things to get and the same goes for her ladyship. They were horrified that Macbeth would kill his best friend, and progress to killing Macduff's family, and that therefore his death was a good thing; he had to be stopped and Macduff had the right to kill him. My Macduff struggled with the right and wrong of killing him, murder was something that villains do, and therefore wrong. But we convinced him that Macbeth was so wicked, out of control, and lost to the good that he had to be stopped and that Macduff had the right to be the one...ethics for young people with autism! And of course, they all adored doing the witches! The parents learned the BSL for 'Double , double, toil and trouble..' Despite my first-timer nerves I found the whole process constantly surprising and affirming of my teaching theory and practice.
I have always felt that learning takes place best when students are engaged. Yeah, the really bright guys, who don't actually need teaching ‘cos they can do it themselves are ok. They can look ahead, choose their goals and work towards them; self-motivating, sorted. The others, all our students and the majority of the mainstream students need to be interested. If it's not interesting why would they bother? But it can be fun, exciting, challenging, different... they can be given control, allowed to make choices, self-direct etc. Then they are engaged and learning happens.
Then there are the staff issues. SEN teachers will know what this is like!! You work with teams of TAs, some of them are older than you are, most of them are more experienced.
For R&J we looked at Grease to begin with and sang the songs, which most of them knew to some extent. We had a group of students who were particularly vulnerable to exploitation; some were quite physically able and potentially sexually attractive but with very limited intellectual and emotional understanding. Therefore we felt that careful sex ed in conjunction with the R&J story would be valuable for them (and it proved to be the case). For the younger and even less able students the whole issue of conflict between groups, bullying, belonging and not belonging, linked well with the SEAL curriculum and that helped to support their understanding of the context of the romance and the motivations for the final tragedy.
Hamlet, what can I say about that? My Prince of Denmark was a student with huge problems of his own. Family issues, and he has a genetic disorder which makes his behaviour erratic and 'Challenging'(SEN professionals use that word a lot!) however the process of investigating why Hamlet was behaving the way he did and what were the problems he was facing allowed for a lot of discussion about our Hamlet's own problems. He too had a troubled relationship with his mother, felt very aggressive towards the man who was his father figure, etc, etc. It can be reassuring to know that other people have felt just like you for hundreds of years. Anyway he did it. Went on stage and showed everyone how it felt to be like him and Hamlet. Not knowing the right thing to do, sometimes feeling that it isn't worth going on living. It hasn't made everything magically ok, but it has helped him to know that other people can understand. Shakespeare knew long before he was born, so he's not weird or abnormal, people do feel that way, and always have. He's still with me and is a great role model for the young ones. But most of all he can now find words to tell us when he feels bad, and never uses his size and strength to hurt anyone or even intimidate them. Is that an SSF effect? It's certainly helped by letting him not feel so alone, and offered him a range of ways of expressing himself, who knows? It certainly hasn't done him any harm.
There is another young man involved in these productions. He has autism, but is of average intelligence. This is quite an uncomfortable mixture, up to puberty he was outgoing, chatty, enjoying learning, showing off his knowledge, doing that memory thing, where they get expert in some subjects. Secure in his environment, feeling accepted. With the onset of puberty, he moved into a different phase. He began to be aware of his difference, he was sufficiently able to observe that others of his own age had confidence and understanding that he lacked. This is a very uncomfortable place to be in. It's ok to be more able than others, you can then place a value on your special talents that can help you rise above your other difficulties and get some perspective, you can maybe understand the nature of your difference and develop coping strategies....However, if you are just average, but with autism, that is very hard. He could see that he was different, but not understand why, or how he could make it better. He withdrew, in very extreme ways, first of all by just curling up on the floor blocking us all out and refusing to participate in any thing. He stopped eating, drinking, toileting, then stopped talking. He regularly exploded in rages that terrified other students, trashed rooms, and led to him 'doing a runner', absconding from school or home, just running away from himself, which terrified his parents and us., because it put him in danger. During our early drama sessions we were lucky if he was in the room, lying on the floor, with his eyes closed and his hands over his ears. If we could get him just to be there that was enough. We were accepting that it was as far as he could go. But at least his peer group was present to him, doing something that was interesting, interacting with each other, he couldn't totally ignore us having a ball! As he crept up to a chair by the far wall and opened his eyes, no-one commented, or drew any attention to him. We just let him be present and watch what we were doing. It must have been important and attractive, because he stopped trying to run away from himself. He started eating, we sorted out the toileting. He didn't make it to the stage for Macbeth, but he was Paris in R&J, with an adult at his shoulder. In Hamlet he was the ghost, without any support, making up his own 'business' and doing the whole performance evening. His mum was in floods, he's moved on to college now, and is talking and planning his future. SSF? I don't know, but again, I'm sure it helps.
So to now. On the registration form I put Twelfth Night and Lear I think. I have thought about both of these. The others on the staff like the idea of a comedy; I think the end of Hamlet finished them off with that heap of corpses! The trouble is that a lot of the humour is beyond our students. Much of the wordplay is obscure and the situational stuff can be very complex. Yet they engage with the tragedies. I am also thinking about Antony and Cleopatra, Julius Caesar, or even Henry 5. In these plays there are very strong roles for boys, and I have a group of strong characters who can carry the more demanding role, two or three of the girls are also quite strong, though not quite so experienced. Lear could be approached through Cinderella; .....
Well, I've been doing more thinking and looking at the Animated plays, (the half hour ones, that the RSC sponsored) and the play synopses, ( provided by the SSF) and I've listed all the students I'll be working with and just thinking really. And I've changed my mind again!! So now I'm looking at the possibility of doing the Tempest. I'm feeling excited by its potential, which is a good sign, and i ‘m having ideas about approaches. We could do some physical stuff, creating the ship with our bodies, and soundscaping the tempest itself with percussion and vocal sounds, which would include the quite high proportion of my teaching group who can't speak but can vocalise. Then there is the magical element and the themes of revenge and justice, or payback with a very clear resolution with Prospero's return and the marriage of Miranda and Ferdinand? Yes, I can see the potential!
Problems again. Sometimes it winds me up; people agree in principle and are positive theoretically but when it comes to actually having to do something, make a practical contribution, then that's a different story! This is an issue of space. The school building is good for our normal small teaching groups. That's ok for the day to day language and communication groups, sessions with therapists (occupational, physio, speech and language, etc) but the idea of the drama is for it to involve all of the upper three groups, aged 12-18, which is about 30 students and 10 staff. The only space we have that is large enough is the main hall. Anywhere else, because of the size of the students, the number of wheelchairs, the need for personal space of those with autism, the physicality of the activity, just doesn't give enough space. We can't move in an ordinary classroom!! We need to move!! It doesn't work if we can't move!!!
Yes, everyone wants me to do it. Yes, they want the cross-grouping. Yes, it's great if I will plan for and lead a whole afternoon once a week with 3 classes, and not bother if the other teachers don't attend. (they get an extra pm time for PPA, if you want to be cynical about it ). Yes, it's great when the local papers write about it and the headteacher is in the photos. But can I have the hall to do it in...it's soo difficult to change the timetable!!
Right, I have been firm and gone to the top of the hierarchy!! When I was a young woman I seriously avoided confrontation. But I grew up in a large family with parents who weren't afraid to admit they made mistakes so I got used to all sorts of behaviours and observed the outcomes in an analytical way. I knew that I was (not going to be, just was) a teacher from when I was about 7. So I just went and said what I needed, in the nicest possible way. They suggested all sorts of alternatives,: using the links I have built up with the secondary school drama department, which is on the same campus, or the hall space at a neighbouring primary school, but I countered with calm reasoning about the concerns of risk assessments, those of our teenagers with behavioural support plans who can be challenging in unfamiliar environments, the medication problems posed by the diabetics and epileptics who require constant monitoring and access to the school nurse , or trained staff being immediately available, not 15 minutes away, etc, etc. And then, ' well if it won't work for you, it won't work, and that would be such a shame,'. Then I left it with them. There is no point fighting and getting strident, I need to do it on my terms, it's not about ego, it's about making it work for the students.
Well, well, well!! The senior member of staff, whose timetable slot I needed, has backed down, or been over-ruled, ( I don't need to know the details!!) Result! Which tells me that I will have leverage going forward because they obviously want me to get it done. OK, enough to have won the battle for the space, it's always important not to be triumphalist, remember Neil Kinnock!! And I'm old enough for that! I've been and done grateful and appreciative, keeping the wheels oiled! When you do teacher training, they focus on teaching children stuff. No-one ever tells you that you need to get skills about managing other teachers, and, heaven help us, the parents!! Help required here for newcomers, at least warn them, the young ones coming in!!!
The joke is on me! I introduced the idea of the Tempest to the key stage 4/5 students. Talked about not doing a play that ended in a blood bath for a change. Showed them the dvd and went through the story. They said it was boring! Some of them have been with me all the way through from 2005. Most of them have done at least one festival, so I can't dismiss their views. Also they have so few opportunities to make really meaningful choices, that aren't just what you have for a snack, that it is hugely important to give them effective control whenever we can. Most of my students (and SEN teachers will know what I mean) are totally directed in their lives. I believe this to be true of all children. I believe that adults take too much control over young people, and I also believe that we all, as adults, underestimate the capabilities of the young. We are over-protective and over- restrictive. If you give power to people, if you hand over control and offer trust, the majority of students will rise to the challenge. So, I had to open it up. We went through a process of explaining the plots of various plays, looking at some of the other DVDs. Acting out some scenes and discussing characters. They decided on The Taming of the Shrew! They think it is funny; they are attracted by Kate's character, impressed by her dramatic presence and have lots of questions about how she changes. This is of course good and positive and therefore cannot be dismissed or over-ridden by me as their teacher.
Getting the 'new' group together. This is about creating a group. I have the younger ones coming in, they are the first-timers and they haven't experienced our ways of working yet. However it's quite easy to bring them in because we have a majority of students who are accustomed to working together and are comfortable with each other. We talk about drama rules for the group. That is, one of my older students decides that he will be the one to tell them. He has autism and relies on the rules for safety, he is a bit twitchy about the new guys and wants to make sure that they get it right. So he stands up and tells them how it works, he has the agreed rules of conduct saved on the smart board as 'Drama Rules'. They include 'Don't interrupt' 'Don't laugh at each other if you get it wrong' 'Listen' stuff like that. He is very serious, staff support him by making sure everyone is paying attention. He takes questions, the new ones are subdued, they are uncertain about taking instructions from a student! They will get used to it!
14/3/10- shared the DVD with the other 2 classes.(Both teachers new to the school, not worked with me before, or done SSF, no drama experience) One of the teachers, very young, uncertain, just past NQT, watched it with hers, can't see how we can do it- worried, worried- worried. The other, older, with more experience, told me she had done similar things before, says her husband has taught drama, seems positive.
28/3/10- Now we have had 3 sessions, working on the group (students and staff!) doing some exercises; introducing ourselves, confidence games, voice production, passing sounds around the circle, and emotional expression stuff. It's an interesting mix of people because I have my veterans, and these older students(6th formers) , have the most profound and complex special needs, which is why they are still with us as they cannot move on to colleges. However, they are so experienced that, even though some of them can't speak, they can lead some of these sessions! So one of them will start a movement, like slapping your knees, and we pass it round. Or a sound, an 'OOO' and it goes round like a Mexican wave. You have to pay attention to your neighbour and be aware of the whole group sharing an activity. I can explain, for the benefit of the new ones, and start off a couple as a model. Then one of the older students will jump in, and set a wave off. The funny bit is when a staff member will try and stop that and tell them to wait for me, but it is unstoppable because the other students just follow the lead, as I do, and then it's happened and I say 'well done, who else wants a go, you, ok, go for it!' they have come to understand, over the years, (and that is my privilege, that I have them for a space of time,) that they have the power to take control, to initiate, to lead. Then the others see that and they get the confidence to try, and I make sure I watch, (I am good at watching them, because they are so fascinating, I want to try and understand what is going on in their heads, they often are experiencing the world in such a different , alternative way from most of us, that you need to make an effort to get alongside and share their perceptions, see' intensive interaction') so that I pick up who does want a go, and who isn't quite ready but might do it next time if they see it modelled successfully.
Ok, staff- they, and I mean teachers as well as TAs, are used to planning, targets, aims and objectives, lesson planning and projected outcomes, related to Individual Educational Programmes. They want to know: what are we going to do, what are the activities, what are the learning objectives, how will we evaluate and measure if the outcomes relate to our targets. But if you don't know where it is going, and you are ok with that, if you let the students direct the process and take it where they want to go, then you don't have a target, it's an unknown, but not therefore invalid, in fact it is more valid because it is self-directed. So I have to stop the staff trying to take control of the students- I have to tell them to shut up and let it happen, because then it becomes more meaningful, it is what they want it to be, not what an adult decides it should be. Our students are so directed in their lives, so controlled, so manipulated, that having the experience of being self-directed, is probably the most valuable thing that ever happens to them, so if I can give that to them as a part of how drama works for us a s a group then it stops being surprising that in the drama sessions there is no 'challenging' behaviour, and that individuals who 'can't manage more than 10 minutes' actually do one and a half hours.
Easter – thought about it over my easter break-of course. Discussed with my job-share colleague how we were going to manage the staff. No worries about the students or the play. We know now that it will happen, and it will be what they make it, which is relevant to them and therefore worthwhile. The issue is the adults. The new teachers will be ok, because they will accept what we say and defer to our experience, they are finding my teaching (not- teaching) methods scary, but as we are taking responsibility, and supporting them in lots of other ways, they will be fine. Bit of a roller-coaster journey for them, not what they were taught in college, and not the same messages they are getting from the senior management, but we , me and Jan, have mopped up their tears, covered for them, helped with their planning and boosted their confidence, so they have bought in to the ssf journey.
The problem is the TAs. I have had the discussion many times with ssf teacher-directors and it has made me realise how lucky i have been with my own team of TAs. We are also lucky that, although our senior managers, head and deputy don't exactly support us, they have learned that what we do is good publicity- local news coverage, the governors love it, and we have got outstanding from OFSTED and silver Artsmark status- so they let us do it, though they don't bother to come and see the process, not been observed yet and don't expect to be!!
My TAs are the salt of the earth, they are low-paid, and often left school at 16 with minimal qualifications, and very little exposure to Shakespeare. The first time, I had them desparate to know how Macbeth turns out. And i was quite jealous, because it is so powerful the first time! After that my original team were sold. But each time since I have had to deal with new ones, and they tend to mutter against me!! Hopefully it will work the magic again, but I have to keep them reigned in. We have done sessions where they are controlling students,: telling them to be sensible, and directing a child to sit out because they are 'being silly'. Then I stop and say, 'sorry? This is a comedy.. therefore we have to be silly, if we don't think it is funny then the audience is bored.
'Bring it on,, be as silly as you like, this is your opportunity to be silly big time, yes please' which is great for the students, but not so hot for the TA who has just been put down.
Summer term- ssf workshops etc
Back to the grind: this is just an account of the SSF journey, but so much else goes on that sometimes it's hard to focus on the play. Then I get a session with all the students and the space for them to move about freely and it takes off again. I've done about 5 script drafts so far. Most of how that works is crossing out. I look at the Shakespeare and produce some scenes, this time I've involved 2 of my 6th formers to help work out what structure we need, so we have a basic story board. Now we are on to detail of text. I offer text to actors and they attempt it, then we edit. I do it with a paper copy. I have it on a clipboard, let them read the line, if they can read, or feed it as a side-coaching. If it doesn't flow, I change it, by crossing it out in front of them. This shows them that they control the process, that there is no failure in not being able to say something because it is theirs. It has to be what they can understand and deliver, it is Shakespeare, it can just be changing the word order, or substituting 'girl' (a word they can understand) for 'wench' ( a word they have never encountered) But understanding isn't all, sometimes the rhythm speaks for itself. We are speaking chorally and signing 'I put my finger in her eye and she knows why!' it's good to say and I'm hearing it at random round the school just like 'Double, double toil and trouble' spread like a virus.
Workshops: the mainstream workshop is worthwhile if only to remember how restricted they are, and to be thankful that I don't do mainstream! It seems to be so much about administration, which isn't meant as a criticism of the teachers, they work where they are and do what they can. It's when you do the concerns and worries exercises and they talk about the restrictions on rehearsal time and the wrangling with the PE dept over lunchtime and after school sessions. And their concerns with the text, that's something I've seen over the years, and heard from their students: they are scared of the text, they come to it with a 'Shakespeare is difficult' attitude. My students had never heard of Shakespeare, they still don't know who he was, but to them the word signifies enjoyment and exploration and interesting stuff, so what's the problem?! At the workshop this year I seemed to spend the in- between times saying, 'Loosen up, be creative, you really can do what you like and what is relevant to your own students', to the other teachers. And also, like some kind of mantra, 'It is the process, not the product, that matters, that is where the learning takes place.'
The Purple Patch Workshop: This was very relaxing. I felt like I was mentoring the virgins!! But that is good, I wish I'd had some contact with someone experienced when I started. The exercises were so appropriate, and they are a very good team. You gave us the actor, the tutor and the student. We could all relate I think, and the opportunity to share practice and method was great. I enjoyed it very much because I felt I could offer a lot, and I hope the new ones felt they gained a lot, it would be good to have feedback from that point of view.
End of term: 16/07/10
Final report. The play has been developing in very interesting ways. I have a group of students who are taking control!! They have all got the message that I am not telling them how to do it, that it is ok to try anything; like how they say a line, or work out an action, and I won't say 'No, don't do it like that' I will say, 'What do you think of that?,' to the rest of the cast, and then we will all listen carefully to the feedback and make a communal decision. There is no 'right' way to do it, so therefore you don't have to worry about getting it wrong. Shakespeare wrote the stuff he did about people: behaving in human ways, like we all do now, for the same sort of reasons. He also wrote it to entertain and interest his audience. Therefore that is the spirit in which we need to deliver it.
Sen: my students have serious problems, and always have had. One result of that is that they didn't play when they were young. They couldn't speak, or move or interact with other children. My own children constantly pretended to be someone or something else; they rehearsed plots and characters, exchanged roles, developed dialogue and acted out emotions and explored motivations. My students missed out on all this big time, so drama fills the gap, and the best drama is Shakespeare. What could be a better vehicle for teaching and learning? What we do is different, which I don't take all the credit for, because it has to be that way.
In the mainstream schools, someone in the English department is told to do the SSF. So they pick a year group, maybe 150 students, hold auditions, choose the most able, talented, keen, give them a copy of the festival script to take home and learn. Then they have to fight the PE department for the coveted lunchtime rehearsal slots, and persuade the students to stay on after school. They are competing for time with the curriculum and examination timetables. The teacher has to choose the style, decide the staging , sort out the costuming, keep to the budget, etc etc. The students are nervous, intimidated by 'Shakespeare', haven't got time to discuss the motivations and the emotional landscapes, never mind the intricacies of the plot. There isn't enough time for the students to be allowed to question and explore, they feel pressured to do well, get it right, and, of course, because they are adolescents, they are very self-conscious. when they get to the stage they are worried, they want to get it right, there is quite a lot of 'Does my bum look big in this?' going on. And the nerves and the self-consciousness is passed on to the audience, so they feel nervous, and also confused, because the cast isn't always quite clear about what it all means, even though they can say the words.
What we do has to be different: there are no auditions, you turn 12 and I get my hands on you and you become part of drama. Everyone is in it, sometimes you can only do 10 minutes, but that soon becomes 30, 40, 50 and then the whole time. You can ask questions all the time, 'Why? Who? What? Where? How ? ' especially WHY? They can't say something, or act out something that they don't understand, so we all have to explore the meaning and explain it to each other. That is good too, I don't tell them why, they tell each other. Someone says Why? And I let the others tell them, if no-one gets it then I will step in and offer options, but I have the time and space to let them work it out for themselves, lucky me! The students who will never get to the stage, because of medical needs, are just as much a part of the process as the ones who can go all the way.
September: well here we go. I did used to worry that they would forget it over the summer, but I am better than that now. I have students who can still, for pleasure , recite Macbeth (2005)!!
And all around the school I can hear, 'You Loggerheaded rascals. You beetle-headed flap-eared knaves' It would be so good if the head or deputy would come and watch and give us some encouragement and support. I don't care, I know they are only interested when there is publicity, but the students would appreciate it. The other classes give us an audience from time to time, and then feedback on what worked and what they understood, which we have worked on and incorporated: they are so good at accepting positive criticism, because we have always worked that way.
We have shared a rehearsal time with our mainstream partner. It was their first go..we shamed them into it, and it will be so good for them, and again I noticed how much more understanding my students have of who the characters are and why they behave the way they do. I wish they could lighten up and enjoy it!! But we made them laugh and that was good for us and it's good to share(I have lent them my severed head!!) and we wished each other luck and we are planning an evening of Shakespeare together before Christmas when we have all done the theatre thing.
ON THE NIGHT; what can I say.. they were amazing, rehearsal was good, but as soon as they began to get the feedback from the audience, as soon as they realised that they were making them laugh there was no holding them back. It was amazing , it was a riot, they just took off, and we couldn't have held them back if we had wanted to. The positive feedback loop started up, the more the audience laughed they more they played to it, the more the audience enjoyed, the sillier they got!!! It was brilliant. The guy who assessd us all, I'm sorry, I was so tired I didn't get his name.. he said he had never seen a funnier performance of the shrew, or seen an audience enjoy one so much. We had a ball, and the audience knew it, so they weren't worried about us 'getting it right' we enjoyed it so the audience loved it. That is what counts, that is how Shakespeare did it. Not only did everyone we encountered on our way out tell us how good and how funny we were, but we have had emails at school from total strangers who have checked us out on the internet to let us know how awesome we were. We will need to widen the doors to get them through.
Thank you a billion times SSF