Coram Shakespeare Schools Foundation (CSSF) has launched the spring leg of its 2022-23 Theatre Festival, the world’s largest annual youth drama programme featuring thousands of children performing Shakespeare plays live in professional theatres across the UK.  

Children from all backgrounds and communities gain vital access to the arts and a chance to shine. As the cost of living crisis intensifies and the impact of the collapse in arts funding is felt, there are concerns that children from disadvantaged backgrounds are increasingly missing out on enriching extracurricular activities. CSSF believes that creative expression has a fundamental impact on children’s essential skills and wellbeing and that every child should be entitled to participate in the arts. 

There will be nearly 250 performances across the country between now and March, with performances coming up in Milford Haven on March 28. See the CSSF website for full listings of the spring term performances.    

The Festival gives children the opportunity to work together to create modern-day interpretations of Shakespeare, exploring the full spectrum of life’s emotion from killer kings to star-cross'd lovers. Over the past 23 years, the award-winning cultural education charity, has worked with over 300,000 primary, secondary and SEND pupils, as well as children in Pupil Referral Units (PRUs). CSSF’s hands-on approach raises aspirations, encourages pupils to stretch themselves, and boosts vital life skills including confidence, organisation, resilience, empathy, teamwork and communication development.  

As well as helping children to thrive socially and emotionally, teachers who work with CSSF have also reported that participating in the Theatre Festival has had a positive impact across children’s entire education with improvements in literacy, school attendance, behaviour, motivation and better engagement with the core curriculum.     

The festival sees thousands of children performing abridged Shakespeare plays live in professional theatres across the UK.

Mike Tucker, Head of CSSF, said:“As the deprivation gap in arts participation widens, the CSSF Theatre Festival offers an inclusive creative experience for young people at a time when many families are struggling to afford these activities. Arts opportunities provided through schools can be life changing for children from disadvantaged backgrounds. Shakespeare’s stories are over 400 years old, but children discover that themes such as friendship, rivalry, triumph, and love are still so relevant today.” 

Actor and CSSF supporter Jan Ravens Said:“The impact of the project will extend far beyond today. Along the way, they become better problem solvers, creative thinkers and team players. I’ve seen for myself how Shakespeare and performance can raise children’s confidence, resilience and ambition. And I know right now that children need these things more than ever.”  

• Coram works in nearly 2,000 schools, supporting almost half a million children in wellbeing education. Coram engages children through 1,500 reading volunteers and the annual Shakespeare Schools Festival. Coram also runs London’s largest Regional Adoption Agency and provides free legal advice for thousands of children and families who need it every year.