A production of Macbeth designed for young people has come to Shakespeare’s Globe this spring. Pendle Harte enjoyed a preview

GCSE revision frenzy is upon us. All over the country, 16-year-olds are printing out revision timetables, covering them in highlighter and sticking them to their bedroom walls. And with Macbeth one of the most studied plays at GCSE, the Globe’s new special schools production comes at just the right time. As a revision session away from the desk, it’s a welcome break for Year 11s, as well as a good introduction to Shakespeare for all ages and stages.

This year marks the 16th anniversary of the Playing Shakespeare with Deutsche Bank project, which provides over 20,000 free tickets for students aged 11-16 in state secondary schools in London and Birmingham. The scheme continues to transform the ways in which thousands of young people experience Shakespeare, with its productions designed specifically for young people and backed up by a host of free online teaching resources from the Globe.

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A Romeo & Juliet production – Shakespeare’s Globe’s performances for schools are tailored for young audiences. Photos: Cesare De Giglio and (top) Ellie Kurttz

“I can’t think of a better play to explore how personal ambition and the abuse of power can corrupt the individual and destroy nations”

This Macbeth is a full-scale, gripping, 90-minute production. While the National Theatre’s last production of ‘the Scottish play’ came in at almost three hours, this condensed show is focused on engaging an audience more used to TikTok than Shakespeare. Director Sarah Frankcom sees its themes as particularly relevant for the young generation: “As young people continue to ask big questions about their future, I can’t think of a better play to explore how personal ambition and the abuse of power can corrupt the individual and destroy nations.”

A significant proportion of young people in this country rely entirely on their school for access to the arts and this project has given schools an invaluable way to bring Shakespeare alive for their students. To coincide with this year’s performances, eligible schools will also receive free workshops for students, free CPD for teachers, and award-winning free online resources to support the teaching and studying of Shakespeare plays in the GCSE and A-level curriculum. This year has already seen over 21,000 students receiving free tickets and over 200 teachers signing up for online and in-person CPD courses.

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Playing Shakespeare at the Globe is part of the Born to Be youth engagement programme

Playing Shakespeare is supported by Deutsche Bank as part of Born to Be – a youth engagement programme to help young people reach their full potential. Productions exclusively for schools continue until the end of March, with public performances until 16 April.

A programme of interactive Macbeth workshops for ages 5-8, 9-12 and 12+ runs alongside the production. These use a range of activities and games designed to draw out elements of the play’s language, characters and themes, and are led by one of the Globe’s highly experienced practitioners who include actors, teachers and directors. Book online as part of the Globe’s Telling Tales programme.

Find out more about the Globe’s work with schools and young people at shakespearesglobe.com

Further reading: Isabella Pappas talks about her school days at ArtsEd