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Shakespeare Nation

What is Shakespeare Nation?

Shakespeare Nation is a partnership project setup by the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) looking for any adults who haven’t had the opportunity to feel the transformative power of theatre and Shakespeare.

Norwich Theatre is one of six RSC partner theatres participating in the ongoing project. We are reaching out to communities around the county who would not normally think theatre and Shakespeare are for them creating opportunities for people to experience the thrill of Shakespeare in their own communities and build a life-long relationship with theatre.

A quote from The Royal Shakespeare Company’s Deputy Artistic Director Erica Whyman on the project: “Not everyone thinks Shakespeare’s plays are going to be for them, but our experience has been that if you can excite someone about Shakespeare and get them speaking his words and making sense of his ideas they often feel that suddenly they can do anything.

Thanks to a grant from the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, the first Shakespeare Nation project has been created as an adult participation project following on from the nationwide 2019 tour of Romeo & Juliet.

A Tale of Many Cities Project

Norwich Theatre response to the RSC’s title Romeo and Juliet was to called the project ‘A Tale of Many Cities’ a reflection of our fine city and collaboration with the local refugee, student & academics and vulnerable young adults communities.

The make up of Norwich has always been changing. The city has always been welcoming visitors from afar. The city’s population is as diverse as ever and its diversity will continue to grow. At the time of the project, the political climate meant day-to-day conversations meandered around immigration, Brexit and the unknown for the future and how we, as the UK, will fit in and be perceived by the rest of the world. Yet Norwich could proudly boast itself as a welcoming city. Norwich Theatre wanted the project to reflect this.

Palm To Palm, the Community Co-production

A collaborative piece of theatre with local refugee, student & academics and vulnerable young adults. Each of their stories was collated and developed into a new play called Palm To Palm.

Palm To Palm was created by three local groups from Norwich, with little or no previous experience of Shakespeare. They were:

  • Evolve (Mancroft Advice Project) a monthly group for 11-25-year-olds who are transgender, intersex, genderqueer and gender-questioning young people
  • New Routes which works at grassroots level in Norwich with refugees, asylum seekers and isolated migrants from over 40 countries speaking 25-plus different languages, and promotes cross-cultural integration and community awareness
  • University of East Anglia students and staff

Working with practitioners from Norwich Theatre and the RSC, the groups began by exploring their own links with the themes within Romeo and Juliet and imagining a journey from somewhere very different and arriving in a provincial city, in a world filled with new colours, new freedoms, new loves – a melting pot of cultures and gender.

There were two performances at Stage Two on 20 Nov 2019 .

For more detailed insight into the project click here to download the activity report.