The world-renowned National Theatre has performed its production of Macbeth to hundreds of school children as part of a residency at Sunderland College.
College students and pupils from St Aidan’s Catholic Academy and Farringdon Community Academy were given the chance to watch the company’s retelling of one of Shakespeare’s darkest plays.
Adapted and directed for teenage audiences by Justin Audibert, Macbeth was staged in Sunderland College’s Arts Academy theatre over a two-day residency.
The college’s performing arts students, who are studying a range of courses including drama, dance and musical theatre, also took part in a question and answer session with the company’s actors.
Sheree Rymer, curriculum leader for creative arts, described the residency as a ‘coup’ for both the city and the college.
She said: “We were absolutely delighted to welcome the National Theatre to Sunderland College. The production of Macbeth was a stunning piece of theatre, and for it be performed in our Arts Academy was aspirational to all of our performing arts students and the school children.
“As a city, our cultural offer is transforming thanks to all of the exciting initiatives taking place and of course the 2021 City of Culture bid which is breathing new life into Sunderland. It’s wonderful to be part of this cultural renaissance and for our students to witness such an instrumental period in the history of the city.”
Macbeth is touring to Sunderland as part of the National Theatre’s strategic touring partnerships programme. Over three years the company is partnering with venues and other cultural organisations in six areas, including Sunderland, to support theatre and reach new audiences across the country.
Alice King-Farlow, the National Theatre’s director of learning, said: “At the National Theatre we believe that all young people should have the opportunity to take part in theatre and drama while at school and college, and I am delighted that we’ve performed Justin’s contemporary adaptation of Macbeth at Sunderland College as part of our new national partnership programme.”
Sunderland College was chosen to stage the residency through its close partnerships with Culture Bridge North East, Sunderland Culture Partnership and the city’s Creative Learning Group.
Helen Green, of Culture Bridge North East, said: “It’s really exciting to have the National Theatre bring Macbeth to Sunderland. Culture Bridge North East is working towards a future in which everyone growing up in the North East has a childhood rich with culture and the arts. The National Theatre’s visit, alongside all the programming already in the city and the City of Culture bid, mean that we’re closer than ever to achieving this for children in Sunderland.”
The National Theatre’s residency at Sunderland College is one of a number of recent high profile visits from acclaimed performers and organisations.
Eurythmics star Dave Stewart visited the college in September to lead a workshop with music students and actor Craig Conway, a former student at the college, returned to speak to drama students about his career.
The college has also welcomed Company E, a Washington DC-based professional dance company, to teach masterclasses to dance students for the past two years.