Valleys learners take part in digital Shakespeare festival

A group of creative learners from the South Wales Valleys are set to take on the virtual stage to entertain audiences far and wide with a Shakespeare classic.

12 budding performing arts learners from Coleg y Cymoedd have been busy preparing for a performance of Shakespeare comedy ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ as part of a national festival dedicated to the famous playwright.

The learners, who are all studying a vocational access course in performing arts, will take to the stage at the college’s Nantgarw campus on Thursday 3rd December at 2pm for the performance, which will be live-streamed digitally for members of the public to enjoy from the comfort of their own homes for free

The show is part of the world’s largest youth drama festival held by leading cultural education charity, Coram Shakespeare Schools Foundation (CSSF). Under normal circumstances, the annual festival sees thousands of learners from schools and colleges across the UK perform Shakespeare plays on professional stages nationwide after months of preparation.

But, with current Covid-19 restrictions meaning theatres up and down the country are forced to close, the CSSF has adapted this year’s festival to give it an online home.

Coleg y Cymoedd has taken part in the festival for the last 3 years. While learners would usually take to the stage in front of hundreds of people at the Riverfront Theatre in Newport, this year’s production will instead be viewed digitally.

Conor Davies, 19, one of the learners involved in the production said:

“Taking part in the Shakespeare festival has been a great learning experience. Although I find performing quite nerve-wracking, being involved in this performance has really helped to give me a big confidence boost, both on and off the stage.”

20 year old Alex Lawless, who is also taking part in the play, added:

“With all the various restrictions and measures currently in place due to the pandemic, putting together the play and rehearsing for it has been challenging, but it’s been a very rewarding experience. I’ve really enjoyed working with tutors and classmates to bring the play to life, and we’re all really looking forward to the final performance, even if it will be online.”

To prepare for the show, Coleg y Cymoedd learners and tutors have taken part in workshops hosted by CSSF, script readings, and countless technical and dress rehearsals on campus in the run up to the final performance.

Angela Fitzgerald, Vocational Access Performing Arts course tutor at Coleg y Cymoedd, said: “Our Performing Arts learners have been preparing for the show since the start of the academic year and are so excited to show off what they’ve been working on.

“Shakespeare plays aren’t the easiest to perform due to the complex language and it’s a shame that we can’t perform live on the big stage like we usually do. However, the learners have been more than happy to get stuck in, push through, and put on a great show. I’m really proud of the hard work they’ve put in with the play, behind the scenes and on stage.”

Coleg y Cymoedd’s learners will perform their adaption of Shakespeare’s ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ on Thursday 3rd December at 2pm. You can watch the performance live here