The aim of Guildford Shakspeare Company, which was co-founded by local thespians Matt Pinches and Sarah Gobran, is to produce Shakespeare that is exciting, engaging and accessible, while remaining faithful to the original works. Last year, their Education and Outreach Department engaged with over 4,000 people, young and old and they are dedicated to working with all sections of society, running several outreach programmes with some of the most disadvantaged areas in Surrey.
“National statistics show Surrey as a high-achieving, prosperous county. However, this can hide the most deprived areas within its boundaries. If you look at education alone, Surrey contains 17 schools achieving exam results well below the national average.” explains Ant Stones, GSC’s Head of Education and Outreach.
Rapid growth in the last 18 months has enabled GSC to employ a new member of the Education and Outreach team, which has allowed them to enrich their depth of work and reach even more people across the South East. Through work with funding partners GSC have an exciting array of projects already up and running, with several in development for 2018 and beyond.
2018 marks the third year of GSC’s collaboration with Delight Charity. Every year GSC takes especially adapted Shakespeare plays and workshops to ten disadvantaged Primary Schools in Surrey. Last year, they divided the children into the feuding Capulets and Montagues with Romeo and Juliet. In 2018, GSC will tour a new production of Macbeth, Shakespeare’s gripping tragedy. Four professional actors share the main roles and narrate key moments to ensure the children follow the story. The audience are involved through creating soundscapes, slow motion fights and the ever-popular Shakespeare puppet, ‘Little Will’. The children are also invited to step up on stage to take on important characters, such King Duncan and the Witches. Even teachers aren’t safe, as one ‘lucky’ staff member becomes Macduff in the final fight to the death.
“It was the best performance we’ve ever had at the school and I’ve been a Year 6 teacher for a long time!” Cathy Waters, Town Farm Primary School.
The Community Foundation for Surrey have enabled GSC to provide free performances and workshops for GCSE students at three disadvantaged secondary schools; Christ’s College in Guildford, Ash Manor School in Ash and Oakwood School in Horley. GSC are delighted that Natwest will also be supporting their school’s work in 2018. Through their Skills and Opportunities Fund they will deliver a new programme with Guildford’s King’s College this year.
Through a new relationship with The High Sheriff Youth Awards, this year GSC has offered bursaries for children who would benefit greatly from their in-house drama clubs, but who’s family wouldn’t normally be able to afford it. This is the first year GSC have been able to grant three children from Weyfield School a free, year-long placement in their Saturday Drama Club. GSC constantly host a variety of children on work-experience and are currently 7 months into an extended placement for a child who has been signed off from school, due to mental health difficulties.
“GSC has had such a positive impact over the years on both his confidence on stage and also his love of Shakespeare.” Club Member’s Mum
Looking ahead, GSC have several other outreach projects in the fundraising stage, as they begin to expand their work outside of schools.
If you would like to learn more about GSC’s outreach work or would like to sponsor one of these projects, please contact Ant Stones, GSC’s Head of Education, firstname.lastname@example.org,