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Waikato Uni helps put Shakespeare into schools

Waikato Uni helps put Shakespeare into schools

Thousands of school children will get to see some of Shakespeare’s works in 2009 thanks to a Waikato University sponsorship deal with the Ugly Shakespeare Company.

The principal sponsorship deal comes amid recent talk that Shakespeare could disappear from school classrooms under proposed changes to curriculums.

Ugly Shakespeare, a theatre-in-education company, tours New Zealand schools, taking live, professional theatre to students for six months of each year. The company began in 1996 and averages more than 200 performances a year in about 150 primary and secondary schools. Its mission is to provide live theatre irrespective of a school’s location or financial situation.

Producer and company founder Richard Green said the previous sponsors pulled out at the very last minute and Waikato University’s help had proved invaluable. “We were panicking a bit about what to do when Waikato stepped in,” he said. The sponsorship helps pay for writers, rehearsal space, costumes and the six-month tour while also enabling the company to keep ticket prices to a minimum for schools.

In 2009 senior students will be treated to Hamlet in a “fast-paced and irreverent style” while junior students get to see Othello. Mr Green said three actors (who doubled as stage hands) produced the shows which used Elizabethan theatre techniques, simple props and costumes and basic sets.

University of Waikato Vice-Chancellor Professor Roy Crawford said the organisation jumped at the chance to help put the Bard’s work in front of school students. “We love that Ugly Shakespeare treats school students to a selection of his works. The Ugly Shakespeare format is a great way of learning and gets students thinking in different ways – something we encourage at university.”

The Ugly Shakespeare 2009 tour begins in Southland in mid-February, working its way up to Northland by the middle of the year. A few places are still available for schools. Visit:


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