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Sally Gray

Meet Sally, our Shakespeare Week Manager


Sally Gray

What is your job title?

Shakespeare Week Project Manager

What kind of things does your job typically entail?

It’s my job to plan and deliver the Trust’s fabulous Shakespeare Week project! This involves dreaming up new, exciting and meaningful encounters with Shakespeare for primary school aged children. I manage the website and co-ordinate a Trust-wide team to deliver a range of events, online resources, teacher training, publications, exhibitions and activities. I work with school and creative and cultural partners across the UK as well as having close links to libraries. Although Shakespeare Week itself only lasts a week, the programme is available year-round and the work with our partner and hub schools continues throughout the year.

Why do you think learning about Shakespeare and his work is important to us today?

This question could have left me ‘tongue tied’ and many people would say that Shakespeare was ‘All Greek’ to them but without realising it much of the time we are busily quoting Shakespeare on a daily basis! Shakespeare’s language is endlessly fascinating, beautiful and exciting. He broke the rules, he created words and his ability to capture a moment, a character or describe human emotion delights audiences and enriches our language today.

What is your favourite Shakespeare related experience- at SBT or elsewhere?

It’s hard to pick one favourite Shakespeare Week moment, but high on my list would be the work in 2019 with our North East hub schools which culminated in the Children’s Shakespeare Debate. We hired the Whitley Bay Playhouse theatre and after a series of workshops, teacher training and the publication of a range of resources we invited two schools to come to the theatre and debate the notion: ‘Were Romeo and Juliet’s parents responsible for their deaths?’. Michael Rosen was our guest host and chairperson and we had a wonderful day at the theatre with an invited audience witnessing an incredible group of 10-year-olds perform, debate and sing. Many of these children had never been to a theatre before and they certainly had a day to remember.

What are the challenges, do you think, in bringing Shakespeare to life for contemporary audiences?

At a primary school level the challenges for me are in persuading teachers that Shakespeare is suitable for a young audience and that his works, life and times can be accessed in fun and meaningful ways. I often encounter teachers that have not had good experiences of Shakespeare themselves and it is my job to provide accessible ways into Shakespeare learning through our resources, videos, workshops and events. Linking Shakespeare to themes and aspects of learning that matter to our schools and families is an essential part of my work and provides pathways to Shakespeare for today’s audiences.

Finally- what is your favourite joke? Doesn’t have to be Shakespearean…

Q: What is Shakespeare’s favourite video game?

A: Sonnet the hedgehog!

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