Two events today — 200 miles or so apart — use literature and theatre to help children learn.
First there’s a performance of Tim’s Crouch’s I, Cinna (The Poet) at the Swan in Stratford. The third of just four performances, today’s is open to the press so I’m particularly sorry not to be there having previously seen and admired Crouch’s I, Caliban and I, Peaseblossom. Each piece takes a minor character and explores the relevant play from his or her perspective. It makes for a playful, entertaining, imaginative critique on, or introduction to, the play.
Crouch was asked by the RSC to suggest other characters who would respond to this treatment along with his earlier I, Malvolio and I, Banquo.
“For the first time in this series, however, I would not be performing in the play I would write.” Crouch said. “I would direct but I wouldn’t act. The actor for my Cinna would also be playing Cinna in Gregory Doran’s RSC’s production of Julius Caesar which opened on 6 June and is broadcast on BBC Four later this month. When I was casting alongside Doran, we found effortless consensus over a young actor called Jude Owusu. Jude would be Cinna for us both.”
The production has been imaginatively filmed, so that it takes on an interactive dimension. The filmed version will be streamed into schools on Monday July 2 and there’s a good education website relating to the show. There is only one more live performance of I, Cinna (The Poet), in the Swan after today, on July 6 — although this play will undoubtedly live on as Crouch’s other four Shakespeare-inspired pieces have. I, Peaseblossom and I, Caliban are, for example currently touring in North Somerset.
Second, later today, 400 school children from seven schools in the Merton/Wimbledon area are presenting the first performance of A Dickens of a Life at New Wimbledon Theatre.
This Wimbledon Civic Theatre Trust project celebrates Dickens’s bicentenary year. For 18 weeks in small groups, the children have worked with practitioners for three hours per week to create an ‘episodic’ journey of Dickens’s life. Along the way they’ve had tuition in various performance styles including circus, puppetry and dance.
The opening performance is tonight at 7.30, with a matinee performance tomorrow at 2.30 and final evening show on Friday (June 22) at 7.30. Tickets - £2 each - are available from New Wimbledon Theatre Box Office in the usual way or via their website.