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RSC launches online guide to help students unlock Shakespeare’s plays

Mimi Ndiweni and Paapa Essiedu in the RSC’s 2018 tour of Hamlet. Videos of Essiedu performing speeches from the play are available as part of the Shakespeare Learning Zone. Photo: Manuel Harlan
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An online guide that aims to help students “get to grips with Shakespeare” is being launched, dubbed the most comprehensive online resource dedicated to the works of the playwright.

Video tutorials, clips and interviews featuring Royal Shakespeare Company actors and directors are being made available free of charge as part of a the initiative, which is designed to “unlock” Shakespeare’s plays.

The Shakespeare Learning Zone has been in development for two years, in consultation with students and teachers. The site includes hundreds of RSC production photographs, alongside video content designed to break down Shakespeare’s plots, characters, language and themes.

Aimed at 11 to 18-year-olds, it also comprises step-by-step plot guides and timelines, tests to track pupils’ learning, and interactive features such as videos from past productions designed to bring characters to life.

The RSC already uses rehearsal room techniques in classrooms as part of its education outreach programmes, however teachers and students will be able to access these strategies remotely as part of the Shakespeare Learning Zone site.

RSC education director Jacqui O’Hanlon said: “We believe that all young people can enjoy and take ownership of Shakespeare’s plays regardless of their age background or perceived ability.

“We wanted to create an online space that supports young people in their Shakespeare studies at any stage of their learning. The site means we can share some of the skills and tools we use at the RSC to really get under the skin of the plays and understand the techniques and devices common in Shakespeare’s work.”

It will launch on September 3 with seven Shakespeare plays including Hamlet, Othello, Twelfth Night and Romeo and Juliet, and two plays will be added to the resource bank each term.

Students will also be able to select the level of information relevant to them, from basic plot and character overviews to in-depth explorations of linguistic techniques and themes.

The Shakespeare Learning Zone has been created with technology from Samsung.