The stage was set for the inaugural Shakespeare in the Garden Festival in The Quarry Theatre gardens on Saturday 8 June, as Y7 and Y8 pupils from Bedford School, Goldington Academy and Bedford Girls’ School came together to perform.

Under grey but thankfully dry skies, the pupils enjoyed workshops with Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) actors. Well known Casualty actor Patrick Robinson worked with Goldington Academy pupils, Emma Manton (The Office) with Bedford Girls’ School and Old Bedfordian Oliver Lynes with Bedford Prep School. All three RSC actors put the pupils through their paces with vocal warm-ups and exercises before working with them on verse-speaking and understanding the prose. They offered a wealth of knowledge and practical advice on how to convey the emotion and message of the schools’ chosen plays.

Fittingly, the sun broke through grey skies to shine on the festival for the evening’s performances. In the golden glow of the sun and in front of a sell-out audience the pupils put their new skills and knowledge to use as they performed their abridged plays. Bedford Prep School commenced the evening with Henry V. Bedford Girls’ School followed with As You Like It and Goldington Academy completed the fantastic event with A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Speaking after the festival, Jonathan Hooley, Head of Drama at Bedford Prep School, told us, “Our aim for the festival was to give pupils who don’t ordinarily perform, the chance to engage with Shakespeare in a nurturing and collaborative environment. The success of the event was a result of the energy and enthusiasm of the children and the generosity and experience of the RSC workshop leads.”

May we say thank you to all involved in the festival, as well as the audience and RSC actors who supported all three schools throughout. Plans are now afoot to expand the event for next year and, hopefully, foster closer links with even more schools.

“It was a lot of fun! I learned a lot.”

A pupil
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