Inspiring the next generation of primary school pupils and teachers.

The Children’s Shakespeare Festival is a major project established by North West Drama Services Ltd to increase understanding and enjoyment of Shakespeare, while building skills and confidence in primary teachers' use of Drama.

The Children's Shakespeare Festival aims to inspire excitement in Shakespeare’s plays and encourage the use of educational drama as a tool for deep and active learning. It comprises a range of projects which combine cross-curricular classroom activity with performance by children in professional theatre spaces.

The Royal Exchange Theatre has committed to work in partnership to deliver three festivals each year in Spring and Summer. Every year the festival introduces hundreds of primary school children, along with their teachers and families, to Shakespeare and drama as a deep, active learning experience. Each festival builds towards a technical rehearsal day, followed by a performance day, where participants share their interpretation of a classic Shakespeare text with family and friends. 

The Festival is important to the Royal Exchange Theatre as it is the foundation of our current work with primary school children. The simple, effective model combines cross-curricular, classroom activity, culminating with live performance by the children in a professional theatre space, a huge achievement for all participants. The festival and the learning process leading up to it inspire a genuine excitement in Shakespeare’s plays and brings many new visitors to our building.

The Children’s Shakespeare Festival also enables us to work in partnership with North West Drama Services to deliver high quality professional development for Primary teachers, including directing, stagecraft, theatre design, stage management, and working with theatre professionals. This experience empowers teachers to lead and inspire their students, giving them new confidence in their use of Drama as a tool for learning. In 2017, over 700 children from 13 schools from across the region will perform in three festivals to present their unique interpretations of TWELFTH NIGHT.

“At the Royal Exchange on our technical rehearsal things really began to happen; lights, sound and special effects. It was magical. Performance Day! The day all of this had led up to… and a day that I will never forget. This experience has affected me in so many ways and has given all of us so much confidence. It has bought me closer to my friends as we all supported each other. A dream come true!”

“Before the Children’s Shakespeare Festival I took a lot of things for granted, but now I know how lucky I am. Shakespeare helps us to understand life better.”

“John Doona has done so much for children around Manchester. He has given then confidence, friendships, opportunity and so much more. Thank you to everyone involved as it has been amazing.”

John Doona was the founder and artistic director of North West Drama and created the annual Children’s Shakespeare Festivals. John sadly passed away in September 2014, following a long illness. North West Drama drew from this a renewed sense of purpose; a willingly accepted responsibility to preserve and develop his legacy. The Royal Exchange Theatre has marked John’s passing and the incredible legacy that he leaves with a floor plaque that sits proudly outside Door 2 of the Module. Read More...

The Royal Exchange Theatre delivers the Children's Shakespeare Festival in partnership with North West Drama Services. To find out more please contact Chris Wright on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 0161 615 6715.