Teacher Jill Strath from Priestlands School in Lymington meets HRH King Charles III at Windsor Castle for a celebration of Shakespeare
A LYMINGTON schoolteacher has said she felt “privileged” to meet HRH King Charles III as part of a celebration of Shakespeare and his contribution to culture and society.
Jill Strath, who is head of drama at Priestlands School, attended a reception at Windsor Castle to mark the 400th anniversary of the publication of the First Folio of his works.
Jill had been nominated to attend by the Corum Shakespeare Schools Festival – the largest youth drama festival in the world, for which she is an ambassador.
She told the A&T: “I have been involved for 20 years and Priestlands has been able to put more than 700 young people on and backstage in professional regional theatres through them, including The Theatre Royal in Winchester, The Lighthouse in Poole, New Theatre Royal in Portsmouth and the Regent Centre in Christchurch.
“I am passionate about making Shakespeare relevant and accessible for young people and ensuring that their ideas and voices are realised through the final performance that we stage.
“I sincerely believe that his plays can be enjoyed by everyone of any age and background and can bring a community together, as we demonstrated in our 2020 filmed version of Measure for Measure that incorporated members of our extended Lymington community.”
After arriving at the castle, Jill and other attendees were treated to “incredibly performed” extracts from Macbeth, Julius Caesar, As You Like It, Twelfth Night, Antony And Cleopatra and The Tempest by a small ensemble of actors, including Ray Fearon, Lucy Phelps, Sir Simon Russell Beale and Dame Harriet Walter.
She said: “The extracts and staging swept you on a thrilling and engaging journey from the first to the last words, and captured the beauty, wit and craftsmanship of Shakespeare's writing.
“I was lucky enough to meet and talk to the King, Queen and Duchess of Edinburgh – what was very evident was their combined passion for theatre and the arts.
“They spoke with knowledge and first hand experience of performing and appreciating Shakespeare.
“The king was particularly interested in understanding how I was able to evidence the impact on our young people in participating in the Shakespeare schools festival.
“I was able to discuss the feedback and impact on our pupils who are still at school and through our CSSF alumni who evidence the positive and ongoing impact it has had on them as they move forward into their many and diverse careers.”
She added: “I feel genuinely privileged to have been given the chance to be an advocate for the incredible work of The Corum Shakespeare Schools Festival.
“Sitting in that grand Hall in Windsor, just a few seats away from our king and queen, Dame Judi Dench and Helena Bonham Carter was a day that I shall never forget.
“The energy and love for theatre was palpable throughout the whole event and it was inspiring and uplifting to be surrounded by so many people with a drive to keep his works alive and to ensure our young people across the country continue to be able to feel the joy and magic of his writing.”