15th April 2024

Sampad and Shakespeare Collide!

By the Sampad Learning Team

One of the joyful things Sampad get to do is collaborate with other amazing cultural organisations. One such organisation is the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, an organisation that we have worked regularly with over a number of years on their Shakespeare Week projects. In this blog we share with you a flavour of the experience.

To celebrate the 10 year anniversary of  Shakespeare Week, the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust wanted to create something special and high profile and so asked their cultural partners to work with 12 schools from different regions to create a flashmob event at 11am on Monday 18th March. Sampad was asked to create a South Asian Bollywood inspired dance retelling of ‘As You Like It’ with one of their West Midlands Hub school – the flashmob was to be performed at the picturesque Victorian Town of Blists Hill in Ironbridge, Shropshire . Of course, we said YES!

Jayalakshmi Khazaei, one of our most experienced Associate Dancers worked with our Artistic Director Piali Ray to look at ways to tell what is quite a complicated story with many characters in numerous disguises through dance.  She then worked not only with the school chosen (Pennyhill Primary School from West Bromwich) but also 4 other schools, delivering 1 day dance workshops to primary aged children.

The lucky children of Pennyhill also had the opportunity to perform a more extended version of ‘As You Like It’ with 4 dances and narrators to an audience of other young people and invited guests at The Playhouse in Stratford Upon Avon on Wednesday 20th March. The event was hosted by ‘Will Shakespeare’ himself alongside CBBC presenters who made it a day to remember!

We have loved working with the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust again, and our Learning Manager, Gillian Twaite, has been on the ground supporting the delivery of the project and working with the children on incorporating drama into the performance. She has reflected on her experience:

“The excitement and confidence of the children of Pennyhill as they performed and the emotions it invoked in audience members will stay with me for a long time.  At Stratford Playhouse there was a point where the whole audience was clapping along to the celebration dance (which was also the dance they performed as the flashmob earlier in the week).  It was the result of a huge amount of hard work by all the partners including the school who had given over 5 days of curriculum time to this project.  It also required commitment and energy from teaching staff  who worked with them between sessions and organised permissions and coaches.

Without long term, sustainable funding for Arts and Culture, these important experiences, working with professional teams who both organise and facilitate them, just wouldn’t happen.  These children will remember this for their whole school careers and I am sure longer.  Their engaged and happy faces as they performed the dances they had learned, representing the difference characters and working together as a team, was both a celebration of the project but also a wonderful  example of the power and impact  of creative learning.  We are grateful to the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust Learning team for bringing us on board and giving us the opportunity to also have a window into the creativity of other schools and arts organisations.”

Partnerships and collaborations are key to Sampad’s work – we love working with amazing cultural organisations such as the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, and we’re thrilled with how it has all come together!