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Encore for Juliet from the streets

PUBLISHED: 15:09 09 September 2009 | UPDATED: 17:07 25 August 2010

A PRODUCTION of Romeo and Juliet starring schoolchildren and centring on knife crime is going to have a second run in a professional theatre.

A PRODUCTION of Romeo and Juliet starring schoolchildren and centring on knife crime is going to have a second run in a professional theatre.

Kidbrooke School's version of Shakespeare's play completed a successful week-long run at the Greenwich Theatre in March. It will now be performed at Riverside Studios in Hammersmith from November 17 to 21.

The piece, directed by the school's head of drama, Lucy Cuthbertson, is suitable for over-13s and features all too familiar scenes from the capital's streets in the aftermath of yet another teenage murder.

The gritty sets include plastic-wrapped flowers tied to railings, police tape blowing between lampposts and body bags. The cast of 17 aged between 13 and 18 includes 'hoodies' whose sorry lives take in scenes of happy-slapping, muggings and stabbings.

It was this unhappy slice of reality which helped the production win the Fringe Report Award for Best Play at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival last year.

The school's arts college manager Shermaine Slocombe said: "The production has confirmed our objective that professional theatre can be achieved by young people.

"We received a huge correspondence from members of the public not related to the school who were stunned at the professionalism and quality of acting. The students are involved in the creative process right from the beginning and they value this.

"The sense of a professional company was astounding.

"It also encouraged a non-theatre audience, another objective of the school. We gave access to quality theatre made by students about themes prevalent in today's society."

Learning support assistant at Bullers Wood School in Chislehurst, Daisy Jones, praised the production, adding: "It was one of the best performances I have seen in a long time. It was filled with passion, fun, adrenaline and pure talent. It was totally relevant to today's society.

"I wish every teenager in this country could sit down to watch that performance to gain some perspective on life."

The school has been approached by festivals in Japan and Spain which want to feature the production but funding has yet to be finalised. Tickets for the Riverside shows cost £15, £12 for concessions, from www.riversidestudios.co.uk or 020 8237 1111.

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