Young actors at Westminster Kingsway College (@WestKing) have been performing short video monologues of Shakespeare’s plays on Twitter during lockdown.
Every day throughout March students studying Performing Arts diploma courses are retelling all 37 of the Bard’s plays – doubling up some days to include all of them.
The students are each performing videos of two reduced synopses of a play on the WestKing Arts Twitter page in no more than 280 characters, the maximum number for the social media site.
They have been researching plots to Shakespeare’s plays and coming up with their own scripts and then recording themselves performing them in a character and style of their own choosing.
Asha Perera, 18, from Camden, who gave an abridged version of Henry VI Part I in the style of Lady Whistledown, the unseen, snooping narrator from hit Netflix series Bridgerton.
She said: “The project was exciting and refreshing. Not only did it allow us to use our creative freedom in lockdown, but it also challenged us to look at Shakespeare in a new light.
“I decided that it would be amusing to relay the play from an outsider’s perspective as they observe and sneer at the drama as it unfolds rather than becoming wrapped up in it, which to me resembled the role of Lady Whistledown.
“I chose to write my script in the form of a poem and learnt it by recording myself saying the lines, which gave me time to play around with my character’s body language and become more comfortable with her way of speaking, so I was ready when it came to performing it.
“Before coming to WestKing, my performances were not authentic because of how shy and doubtful I had become when it came to acting, but being around a group of supportive and like-minded actors and friends has helped me rediscover my love of performing.”
Stevie Kerr, 16, from Barnet, decided to tell the story of The Taming of the Shrew through the eyes of Bianca, Baptista’s youngest daughter in the play, and focusing on the sisterly bond with Kate that turns to sibling rivalry and jealousy.
“I had a lot of fun with this project, I’ve always liked Shakespeare so be able to work so closely with some of his work was a great experience,” she said.
“I carried out research into the plays, finding out the synopsis and information about the characters, their purposes and how they were originally played, so I could refer to his work and mine to really honour his intentions when writing my script.
“I finally came up with a script that I was comfortable with and then began rehearsing to find the best technique to portray the character.”
Shakespeare has played a big part in Performing Arts courses at WestKing over the years including performances in parents’ living rooms and at tube stations, as well as a production of The Tempest where some students performed in their native language.
Lecturer in Drama Rob Alexander said: “We are always looking for new and innovative ways to use Shakespeare on our courses and thought this would be a fun and contemporary way to make his plays accessible and exciting for our students and showcase their talents in lockdown.
“They’ve really impressed me with the way they have each interpreted the Bard’s work and used their creativity to retell his plays in short narratives, and how they have brilliantly brought their characterisations to life in their performances.”