CHILDREN from East Preston Junior School performed a slick, energetic and unique interpretation of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar to rapturous applause last week.
The production at the Alexandra Theatre in Bognor Regis was part of the Shakespeare Schools Festival, the UK’s largest youth drama event.
The fast-paced, action packed production, directed by teachers Judith Crouch Algorta and Sue Tabor, was based on a group of friends popping out to see a film at the cinema.
Judith explained: “We interpreted the play as ‘Julius Caesar – the movie’. If Shakespeare were alive today, we like to think he may well have chosen this popular medium to reach the widest possible audience. And the key themes of the play - loyalty, ambition and the rule of law – are just as relevant today.”
The school’s innovative approach included dramatic freeze-frames and classic cinema soundtracks from films.
Head teacher Kathy Lockyear was delighted with the performance.
“The children and staff have worked very hard to produce an amazing performance of Julius Caesar,” she said.
“It is quite a challenge for them to tackle Shakespeare at their age and to see them performing with such confidence and enjoyment was awe-inspiring.
“I know they have all grown in confidence and have had an unforgettable experience.”
Daisy Cross, who played Brutus, the ‘honourable man’ who tussles with his conscience before murdering his leader, said: “I think Brutus kills Caesar because he sees the good in everybody. He thinks that everyone will agree with him in doing what he sees as best for Rome but he is misled.”
Stella Blows, who played Brutus’ friend and occasional sparring partner, the ‘lean and hungry’ Cassius, said: “I think the conspirators go too far - although Cassius believes that killing Caesar is the only option because otherwise Caesar would have got too much power.”
Sam Haigh, who played Caesar, said the whole experience had changed his view of history and of Shakespeare.
“I’m glad I did it because it was so much fun,” he said. “It was great. At first, I thought the play was an old-fashioned grown up thing, but now I think it’s something that everyone should know about.”
Annabel Fincham, who played Antony, the General whose emotional speech at Caesar’s funeral manipulates the crowd, believes Antony’s actions are primarily motivated by a desire for revenge.
“I think Antony does what he does because Caesar was his best friend and he wants to get his own back on the people who killed him,” he said.
Freddy Ireland, who played one of the four narrators, encapsulated the euphoria of the cast following the successful performance: “Initially I was very nervous, but when I was on-stage it was the best 28 minutes of my life.”
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