Macbeth is no ‘toil and trouble’ for Arnhem Wharf pupils in Shakespeare Festival

Alas, it's Macbeth... Arnhem Wharf Primary on stage in Schools Shakespeare Festival

Alas, it's Macbeth... Arnhem Wharf Primary on stage in Schools Shakespeare Festival - Credit: Arnhem Whartf primary

Drama teacher Janet Banzaca was quite dramatic over getting her pupils ready to perform Shakespeare on stage in public. It was her first attempt at The Bard for the children of her east London primary school to tackle.

Alas, it's Macbeth... Arnhem Wharf Primary on stage in Schools Shakespeare Festival

Alas, it's Macbeth... Arnhem Wharf Primary on stage in Schools Shakespeare Festival - Credit: Arnhem Whartf primary

She went for Macbeth—its witches casting their “hubble, bubble, toil and trouble” spell—and stormed home to the applause of an audience of 500 in the national School’s Shakespeare Festival.

“This was our first time at the festival,” she told the East London Advertiser.

“It was a daunting task, as I had never directed Shakespeare before.

“We’ve had projects with Shakespeare, but never a production in a professional theatre with lighting and sound. The children had an amazing experience.

Alas, it's Macbeth... Arnhem Wharf Primary on stage in Schools Shakespeare Festival

Alas, it's Macbeth... Arnhem Wharf Primary on stage in Schools Shakespeare Festival - Credit: Arnhem Whartf primary


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The quaint Shakespearian English was “no barrier” for the 21st century children from Millwall’s Arnhem Wharf Primary on the Isle of Dogs.

“They took in their stride and were so enthusiastic,” Janet added.

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“Preparing a Shakespeare production with a large group of 10-year-olds to be performed in a professional theatre may have been a daunting project to take on—but I needn’t have worried.

“The children learned their parts, gave impressive performances and were more than up to the task of dealing with Shakespearean language.”

Alas, it's Macbeth... Arnhem Wharf Primary on stage in Schools Shakespeare Festival

Alas, it's Macbeth... Arnhem Wharf Primary on stage in Schools Shakespeare Festival - Credit: Arnhem Whartf primary

This national festival runs annually with performances in theatres across the country.

Some 35,000 schoolchildren performed at this year’s festival in 138 theatres on 320 performance nights.

Arnhem Wharf’s cast started rehearsing way back in September and performed their shortened version of Macbeth at The Albany theatre at Deptford.

The children said it was “the best play in the world!”

It was their big moment at The Albany performing on stage “with everyone watching”.

The experience taught them to speak confidently in public.

Arnhem Wharf prides itself on the recognition it received for outstanding work in the arts, with drama now taking ‘centre stage’ in the school prospectus.

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