Shakespeare in our own words

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On 11 July 2013 we hosted the showcase evening for a project we have been running since the autumn of 2012. 60 young people from 13 to 16  years old came to show off the poetry they had created re-telling Shakespeare’s tales in their own words. The “Shakespeare in Our Own Words” project was made possible by funding from the Clore Poetry and Literature Awards which enabled us to run a series of workshops with 150 young people from five local schools which did not bring their pupils to visit Shakespeare’s Birthplace and who had never before used our education department with their Key Stage 3 pupils.

Over the course of one school year we ran  3 workshops with each school and offered them a free visit to Shakespeare’s Birthplace. All our workshops were with Robin Price an established children’s author who has an excellent feel for young people and who had an interest in learning more about Shakespeare himself. Robin produced some really engaging workshops  which brought Shakespeare and his language to life for all the participants.

We worked on the plays which the schools were studying anyway which were The Tempest, Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth, and Richard III and the first workshop looked at creating poems about the dilemmas faced by the characters of these plays. What does Miranda feel alone on her island with her father and Caliban?  Who were the witches in Macbeth? What did Richard’s life stand for? How did Romeo explain to Juliet about killing Tybalt?

During the second workshop, which included a visit to Shakespeare’s Birthplace, Robin and I introduced the young poets to the books which had inspired Shakespeare. Thanks to a great team from our collections department we were able to let the pupils get up close and personal with our historic texts. They were clearly fascinated by these beautiful old books and asked lots of questions (most of which we could answer!)

Pupils then worked to weave words and phrases from these inspirational books into their poems and were encouraged to make up words of their own to describe thoughts, feelings and situations.

A final workshop with Robin Price in schools encouraged the pupils to create group and individual poems for the showcase evening, setting them to music and image and highlighting their linguistic creativity with poems inspired by Shakespeare and retold in their own words.

You can see an exhibition of some of the work produced in the cafe at Shakespeare’s birthplace but if you can’t make it to Stratford-upon-Avon browse the work here by double clicking on any of these thumbnails….


The Clore Poetry and Literature Awards fund poetry and literature initiatives for children and young people, under the age of 19 across the UK. The Clore Duffield foundation has created these awards with the aim of providing children and young people with opportunities to experience poetry and literature in exciting and compelling ways in and out of school.

Imaginative and creative writing is at the heart of our experience and culture

The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust is the charity that cares for the five historic houses in Stratford-upon-Avon associated with William Shakespeare. We aim to lead the world’s enjoyment and understanding of Shakespeare’s works, life and times.  We have a busy education department working with children from Key stage 1 to A level and beyond.


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Author:Liz Dollimore

Someone who loves listening to people talk about Shakespeare Liz tweets at @shakespeareBT

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