Students Perform for Royal Audience

Talented students from Burlington Danes Academy had a chance to act for a royal audience on Wednesday.

They performed an extract from last year’s successful adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing for Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall at Southend’s Palace Theatre.

The event was the first in a series celebrating Shakespeare’s 450th birthday.

Sixth form student Fred Gill said: "It was an honour to perform in front of Prince Charles and to talk to him afterwards about the variety of dramatic events we put on at Burlington Danes. He seemed really interested in what I had to say."

The Prince and Camilla took time during a tour of Essex to watch youngsters from six schools perform scenes from various Shakespeare plays. The royal couple then joined the actors and their teachers on stage for a meet and greet.

Speaking about the Burlington Danes performance, the Prince said: "I particularly enjoyed the last one from Much Ado About Nothing when they all danced. I think it [SSF] is empowering and it builds confidence in children."

Burlington Danes Academy’s head boy, Jadon Guthrie, said: "What was perhaps most inspiring about the day was how genuine and enthusiastic Prince Charles was."

The Shakespeare Schools Festival is the UK’s largest youth drama festival, providing students from all backgrounds the opportunity to perform Shakespeare in professional theatres.

Chief Executive Penelope Middelboe said: "Shakespeare Schools Festival is about sharing something so extraordinary that people find the courage to stand on stage and speak some of the greatest words ever written.

"We are so excited to share this with Their Royal Highnesses in this very special year for Shakespeare," she continued.

Head of Performing Arts Mr Prout said: "Performing Shakespeare in its original form was as exciting for our students today as it has been for the generations of professional actors that have come before them."

The Burlington Danes ensemble will visit 11 Downing Street next month for a final rendition in front of government ministers.

Alabama Nutt, Y9, said: "I really enjoyed the thrill of being on stage in front of a live audience and I can’t wait to do it again at Downing Street."