Today was the last performance of “Romeo and Juliet”, which I had directed at school. Although I have been seconded out of school since Christmas, I carried on with the project. I am so glad that I did.
It was astonishing.
These are the words I said at the end:
Back in the autumn, I announced that this year‘s school play was going to be Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet”.
“Ooh Mrs Carter.
Shakespeare. That’s ambitious!”
“Good luck with that!”
So why did I decide to choose this this play and go ahead, in spite of the challenges?
I chose this play precisely because it was ambitious. Because I know that when you are ambitious in your work with young people they live up to the ambition and they produce results just like the production we have seen this week.
I chose this play because we need to talk about the issues that the play brings up: we need to talk about teenage distress, about suicide and about the things that happen when we don’t listen to and love one another.
I chose this play because more than 400 years after his death, Shakespeare still has so much to teach us about life. The character in this play who perhaps appeals the most to me is Friar Lawrence because, in that scene where he talks to Romeo (after Tybalt’s death and Romeo’s banishment), he is full of mindfulness and solution-focus, even when the worst has happened and Romeo wants to give up. He represents the type of adult that we need to be when our young people are facing challenges that the world throws at them.
And although in “Romeo and Juliet” we ultimately see two young people who tragically make irreversible decisions, what I want to show you now is the young people here who chose this play and have shown us in buckets what young people are capable of when we believe in them.
I don’t think it’s overdramatic to say that drama literally saved my life when I was younger. believe fundamentally in the power of drama and the arts to bring out the best in our young people and this production shows why.
It has been an absolute privilege to work with this group and I’m incredibly grateful to them for their commitment, their team spirit, their care for each other and for me and for their massive enthusiasm.