Many teens would groan and whinge at the prospect of studying Shakespeare. However, since 2000, the Shakespeare Schools Festival has managed to convert 90,000 young people from 4,428 schools into fully fledged Bard enthusiasts.

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For more than a decade, Britain’s largest drama project has maintained the ethos of “bridging the attainment gap”

— training teachers to become directors, and emancipating students of any background and ability with newfound confidence, articulacy and skills in team work. How do they do it? By getting the students to perform half-hour adaptations of Shakespeare’s plays. That’s it.

Festival Director Chris Grace explains: “As report after report paints this country as a difficult place to grow up in and engage positively with society, our charity offers a creative solution; through this country’s greatest literature we harness and channel our young people’s natural aptitude for imagination and team-work.”

The SSF is about to spread the word again in Norwich, with eight Norfolk and Suffolk schools staging productions over two nights at Norwich Playhouse.

Four schools will be performing a 30 minute performance of one of the Bard’s plays each night.

November 6 will see Dereham Sixth Form College perform A Midsummer Night’s Dream; Mattishall Primary School will be staging Julius Caesar; Northgate High School will take on King Lear; Scarning Primary School will perform Macbeth. The following night Astley Primary School will give their version of Macbeth; Litcham High School will stage The Comedy of Errors; Norwich High School for Girls will bring to life their take of The Tempest; and Wayland Academy will perform A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Schools are encouraged to put their own spin on their assigned play. “I look forward immensely to seeing what they’ve dreamt up for us this year,” said Chris Grace.

■ Shakespeare Schools Festival, Norwich Playhouse, November 6-7, 7pm, £8 (£6 cons), 01603 5908598,

www.ssf.uk.com

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