Blackpool’s Grand Theatre is working in partnership with The Royal Shakespeare Company on Shakespeare Nation, a four year project to promote theatre among new audiences.
The new initiative is aimed at adults who typically don’t visit the theatre, in the hope they will become both theatre lovers and Shakespeare ambassadors in their local community.
The Grand is working with hundreds of adults in the North West to introduce them to Shakespeare.
The project started with taster workshops held by local artists in art, music, dance and drama.
So far more than 120 adults, from a wide range of groups, have taken part in the taster sessions.
Most had never been involved in a theatre project before and had little or no experience of Shakespeare apart from often bad experiences at school.
But they were reintroduced to it when the watched The RSC’s enthralling production of Romeo and Juliet at The Grand Theatre earlier in the year.
And then they got the opportunity to meet actors from the company and its deputy artistic director, Erica Whyman.
The next stage of the project sees volunteers working together to create their own production, which mixes extracts of Romeo and Juliet with their own personal stories of love and romance.
The volunteers will then perform their show in front of a live audience on June 17.
Jo Cleasby, Grand Theatre director for Shakespeare Nation said: “The participants are so up for anything we throw at them. Their enthusiasm and willingness to have a go is amazing.
“Stories everyone has shared of their ‘Romances’ are so honest and truly beautiful.”
The Grand is one of six theatres in the UK who are working with The RSC on Shakespeare Nation.
It’s hoped the scheme will engage with more than 3,000 adults in the UK who wouldn’t normally have an interest in Shakespeare.
And they will become Shakespeare Nation Champions – encouraging visits to the theatre and foster interest in their communities for Shakespeare’s work.