The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) visits King Ethelbert School, Birchington On Sea on Thursday, 22nd November 2018 with its First Encounters with Shakespeare production of The Comedy of Errors. 

For over a decade the RSC has been taking these First Encounters productions – which are edited versions of the plays performed using Shakespeare’s original language – on the road into the heart of communities.

Directed and edited by Alex Thorpe, and primarily aimed at 7-13 year olds, the production will feature a gender-split cast of eight actors and actor-musicians. 

A key feature of the First Encounters productions is that they could not take place without the involvement and engagement of the audiences and local community they are visiting.  Young people from King Ethelbert School will be directly involved in the production, with a team of up to twenty pupils performing an edited version of one of the play’s opening speeches, in which Egeon explains how he became separated from his wife and one of his twin sons.  The school will also be invited to decorate parts of the set ahead of the RSC’s visit to create a sense of their hometown.

“We are so excited to host and take part in The Comedy of Errors First Encounters production.  Last year our students and local community absolutely loved the Julius Caesar First Encounters production.  It is such a thrill having a top quality, really student-friendly RSC production in our very own school hall.  This year the show includes even more student participation in the story telling, too, giving unique opportunities for our Year 7 students to enjoy.” (Carol O’Shea, Lead RSC Associate Schools’ Partnership teacher, King Ethelbert School)

“We can’t wait to see performances of The RSC’s First Encounters Production of The Comedy of Errors in schools across Kent this coming November. We’re excited to be supporting the project with local director mentor Eleanor Wright visiting schools to work with young people and teachers taking part in the performances alongside the professional actors at The RSC.” (Paul Ainsworth, Creative Engagement Manager, The Marlowe)

Alex Thorpe said:

“The RSC’s First Encounter’s productions have a long and exciting history of not only giving young audiences their early experiences of Shakespeare and theatre, but also actively involving them in the making of it. This year I am delighted to be leading a company who will take things a step further. This production is being built around its audience and the places we visit. Extending and building on the play’s themes, the professional company of actors and actor-musicians will be joined by ensembles of young performers from across the UK to help tell some of the story.  Ephesus, the play’s market town setting, will feel uncannily familiar as local communities work together to complete the stage’s design.

My relationship with the RSC’s Education Department has seen me collaborate with and learn from teachers, artists and school groups right across the country. Being brought up in the North West market town of Kendal, the opportunity to take Shakespeare’s farcical comedy to locations that feel like home is the perfect way to share one of Shakespeare’s earliest works.”

Jacqui O’Hanlon, RSC Director of Education, said:

“At the heart of our First Encounters with The Comedy of Errors tour are the regional theatres and schools we are privileged to work in collaboration with to create it.  Many of us have our first encounter with Shakespeare at school, an experience which can define our attitude to live theatre and to Shakespeare for all of our lives.  Together with our partner theatres we bring the excitement and wonder of Shakespeare’s work right into the heart of schools and local communities.  We know that audiences for this work include significant numbers who are new to Shakespeare and to theatre.  And that 20% of returning audiences have had their first encounter with theatre through these tours is testament to the profound impact that partnerships between schools and theatres can have on local communities; partnerships forged out of a shared vision for education in which access to the arts plays a central part.”

The cast includes: Hasan Dixon (Antipholus of Ephesus), Jessica Dyas (Angleo/Egeon), Aruhan Galieva (Luciana/Duke Solinus), Lewis Griffin (Dromio of Ephesus), Rhiannon Handy (Adriana), Paula James (Merchant/Emilia/Officer), Nicholas Karimi (Antipholus of Syracuse) and Thomas Pickles (Dromio of Syracuse).

Other members of the creative team include: Amelia Hankin (Designer), Eamonn O’Dwyer (Music), Simon Pittman (Movement), Lisa Connell (Fights) and Edie Edmundson (Puppetry Director).



Well done to King Ethelberts on getting the Royal Shakespeare Company to visit your school, including the pupils involved, what an honour that will be. If you have a story about your school that you would like featured on our website then email [email protected]