The Globe Theatre, on London's Southbank, has thrown open its doors free of charge to school children across the capital.
The annual Playing Shakespeare with Deutsche Bank project, saw a production of Macbeth commissioned for teenagers by Globe Education.
14,000 free tickets were offered over the first two weeks in March, which enabled every school across London that wished to take its pupils to one of the nine performances.
A survey of 1,200 Year 9 students, aged 13 to 14, found that 99.4% had been to the cinema. Yet one in three (36.6%) had never been to the theatre, whilst four out of five (82.5%) had never seen a Shakespeare play.
Fiona Banks, Head of Learning for Globe Education at Shakespeare's Globe, commented on the survey findings: “Why do young people feel culturally entitled to go to the cinema but only one in three feels that they can go to see a play?
“The cost of cinema tickets in relation to theatre is not the issue. Here at Shakespeare’s Globe we have tickets priced at £5, and elsewhere across the capital our leading theatres have tickets for £10 or less. As for Shakespeare, are youngsters missing out because of the legacy of how Shakespeare was taught to their parents, in a dry script approach?
“Active, practical exploration of Shakespeare's plays is the best way for young people to engage with their stories, characters and ideas. Practical exploration and academic discovery exist side by side here at Globe Education. Our challenge is to engage teenagers today so they can feel that theatre is something they can access as easily as cinema if they want to.
“The annual Playing Shakespeare with Deutsche Bank project at Shakespeare’s Globe gives away 14,000 free tickets, but it also provides bespoke workshops and online resources committed to creative approaches to captivate and convert our young people”.
A gala performance attended by a mixture of schools, sponsors, supporters and the project's celebrity Patrons took place on Thursday 11th March. Celebrities in attendance included the actors Celia Imrie and Siobhan Redmond. TV presenter Floella Benjamin made a speech praising the initiative.
The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: “I want to congratulate the Globe and Deutsche Bank on this tremendous education project, which has enabled 14,000 schoolchildren to experience Shakespeare. I am passionate about giving young Londoners access to great culture and the Globe is the ideal setting for them to get a taste for his work. I wish you every success with your plans and hope it goes from strength to strength”.