Why is learning about Shakespeare and his plays so important?

Why is learning about Shakespeare and his plays so important?

written by St. Cuthbert’s Lead Shakespeare Ambassadors

Earlier this year, a group of Year 4 and Year 5 children rehearsed and performed a section of the play ‘Romeo and Juliet’ by William Shakespeare.  We performed the section where Tybalt kills Mercutio and then Romeo kills Tybalt in revenge.  We learnt some stage combat during rehearsals so we could make the fighting look realistic for the audience but so we also made sure we kept each other safe.

There are lots of reasons why we think it is so important for children to be given the chance to learn about Shakespeare and perform his plays.  Some of these reasons are our own ideas.  Some ideas come from our friends and cast members who we interviewed after the performance.  Read on below to find why we think it is so important:

  • When we did the performance, it increased our confidence. We didn’t think we could stand up and perform in front of so many people, and some of us felt so nervous, but we did it and had lots of fun!
  • It inspired us to write and practise our own plays.
  • It helped us to express our emotions. When we were rehearsing, everyone was really supportive so we felt like we could try new things.
  • We learnt about who William Shakespeare was and his life, which is important because he is one of our country’s most famous writers. We also developed our History knowledge because we learnt about what life was like in England when Shakespeare was alive.
  • We also learnt some Literacy skills because we learnt some more about different genres. Shakespeare wrote lots of different types of plays, including tragedies, comedies and history plays.  ‘Romeo and Juliet’ is definitely a tragedy!
  • The rehearsals helped us to sympathise with other people and understand others. This is because when you are acting you put yourself in someone else’s shoes and have to think about how they are feeling, what they are thinking and why they are doing certain things.  This is so important because it helps us to understand others in real life and think about things from someone else’s point of view.
  • We also improved our memory skills because we had lots of lines and choreography to learn!
  • Creating a performance together helps you to work as a team and encourage each other. We made new friends in other classes and enjoyed being creative together.  Even though some people had more lines than others, we worked together as a team to tell the story and we realised that, in a cast, no-one is more important than anyone else.
  • We also made new friends with children from other schools. When we performed, we got to watch the other schools perform their sections of the play.  It was fun to see what everyone else had been working on and to meet children from other schools.
  • We learnt about how the theatre works and how plays are put on. We got to experience dress rehearsals and technical rehearsals.  If you are interested in acting, drama or working in a theatre, it helps you to find out more about how it all works.

As you can tell, we think learning about Shakespeare, acting and performing Shakespeare’s plays is great!  We think it is so important as it really helped us to grow in confidence and develop new and important skills.  We think everyone should have a chance to do the same!  At the moment, Year 4, Year 5 and Year 6 have the opportunity to learn about Shakespeare and his plays.  Over the next few months, we are going to be working hard to give other children in St. Cuthbert’s the chance to have a taste of Shakespeare plays and hopefully also have a try at acting.