Something wicked this way comes to the Grand

Katie Jones designed the poster for the Grand Theatre's Shakespeare festival
Katie Jones designed the poster for the Grand Theatre's Shakespeare festival
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Young Katie Jones has become a poster girl of the different kind for the Grand Theatre’s youth Shakespeare festival.

The nine-year-old Thames Academy Primary pupil is one of more than 400 children taking part in this week’s Regional Schools’ Shakespeare Festival, which is reshaping the classic thriller Macbeth in partnership with the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC).

Children from 18 schools across Blackpool and Wyre are taking part in the performances tomorrow and Thursday, and have been involved in all aspects of the production process - including marketing, with the chance to design a poster for the event.

Katie’s striking black and red design is on show in Victoria Street, near Boots and Starbucks, and she’s now looking forward to performing at the Grand.

The Grand Theatre’s partnership with the RSC and local schools aims to “bring about a significant change in the way young people experience, engage with, and take ownership of the work of Shakespeare”.

A spokesman for the theatre added: “The aim is to explore Shakespeare with students and teachers in the way actors do in a rehearsal room, using dynamic, active approaches.”

The ‘one-hour edit of Macbeth’ uses Shakespearian language and text, with RSC director mentor Amy Draper bringing the piece together with her cast of hundreds. Some will also get a chance to take their work to the RSC’s home in Stratford Upon Avon in the summer as part of a national festival.

“Telling a story with this many cast members is a highly ambitious and challenging feat, one that Amy does not take lightly,” the spokesman added.

“Amy has worked alongside the associate schools’ dedicated and talented teachers to make sure that there is continuity throughout the performances.

“Just having a visit from a professional director is exciting enough for the young cast members but Amy, as a representative from the RSC, really makes the children aware this is not just a fantastic regional festival but part of a national programme.”

Project coordinator Jo Cleasby, creative learning producer at the Grand, said: “We have the most amazing directors in Blackpool schools that also happen to be full-time teachers.

“Their commitment to the young people with whom they work and the extra hours they put in are hugely appreciated. If they didn’t run rehearsals, make costumes or fill in all the paper work this show would not be possible. Without their dedication this programme would not be the success it is.”

* Macbeth, Grand Theatre, tomorrow and Thursday, 1pm and 6pm. Call 01253 290190 to book.