Students Eleanor Fillingham Y9 and Josh Chima Y12 were selected along with 6 other students from Bradford schools to join the RSC cast of Romeo and Juliet and perform with them at the Alhambra.
They took part in two rehearsals with members of the RSC’s Education team and the Romeo and Juliet creative team. Then, during the week of the RSC’s visit, they joined the professional acting company for a rehearsal on the stage of the Alhambra before they faced an audience for their public performances.
Damien O’Keeffe, who leads the work of the Associate Schools programme at Bradford College, said:
“The relationship that we have built up with the RSC over the last two years has provided some fantastic
opportunities for young people in Bradford schools. These include the chance to perform at a schools’ festival in Stratford upon Avon and to take part in the recent First Encounters: Comedy of Errors production at the College; but to get the chance to join the company of Romeo and Juliet on the main stage of The Alhambra is amazing.
Director Erica Whyman said: “We were bowled over by the impact our tour of A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream: A Play for the Nation had on young people who took part. I wanted to build on that with Romeo and Juliet, opening up a dialogue with young people in schools.
Bally Gill, whose mum is from Bradford, plays Romeo in the RSC production. He said: “Coming to Bradford has brought back childhood memories. I used to visit my grandparents here. My family didn’t go to the theatre. The first time they saw a Shakespeare play was when they saw me perform with the RSC. I became interested in drama at school. I wasn't academic but teachers said I was good at it and I could make it a career."
Bradford Theatres general manager Adam Renton said: "The talent of local young people is astounding, this project is a wonderful platform to show it off.”
The Associate Schools Programme is aimed at bringing about a significant change in the way young people experience, engage with and take ownership of the work of Shakespeare. Through the programme teachers learn to explore Shakespeare with their students in the way actors do in a rehearsal room; using dynamic, active approaches.
“I am immensely proud of Eleanor and Josh. They have worked incredibly hard during their 2 rehearsals with RSC Directors and have fully explored the language and context of Romeo and Juliet. I hope they fully embrace this exceptional experience and remember to enjoy themselves too!.”
Mrs Buffham-Wheeler, Lead Teacher.