Schoolchildren struggling to understand Shakespeare are concerned that studying the works of the world’s greatest dramatist will not help them get a job when they leave school.
42 percent of two-thousand 11 to 18-year-olds said they believe knowing the works of Shakespeare will not help them in the workplace, according to a survey commissioned last fall by digital technology company Adobe and the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC).
The vast majority – 77% – of those polled said they found language challenging or difficult to understand.
As a result of the poll, the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) teamed up with Adobe to try to encourage more young people to engage with the Bard’s work.
Last November, five British artists, illustrators, graphic designers and photographers were commissioned to reimagine iconic scenes from Shakespeare’s most studied plays, including the iconic balcony scene from Romeo and Juliet.
More recently, several actors and actresses, including Tamsin Greig, Noma Dumezweni and Patrick Stewart, launched RSC Homework Help – a new way for students to understand Shakespeare’s works.
“As a result of the COVID-19 outbreak and the closure of UK schools, many young people will be working from home. We know this can feel isolating and demotivating and we want to ensure we do everything we can to support and inspire them,” said RSC director of education, Jacqui O’Hanlon
Students with questions were asked to email them to firstname.lastname@example.org or share them using the hashtag #RSCHomeworkHelp on Twitter or Instagram. The first round of answers were released May 11 in the form of videos and recorded messages from actors.
RSC Actress Amanda Hadingue, who appeared in the films “The Queen” (2006), “The Darkest Universe” (2016) and “Black Pond” (2011) took one of the first questions: “How do you help the audience to understand?”
“Firstly, make sure you completely understand everything you are saying. Then, pay attention to the verse,” she wrote. “For example, Shakespeare usually places important words at the ends of lines because the audience need to hear these! Otherwise, normal acting techniques apply.”