“Let your imaginary forces work!”

Aimed at young people from Years 1-8 and their teachers, this is a programme created to develop core skills as they embark on a journey of discovery.

Primarily Playing with Shakespeare is a vehicle for the students to experience the literary works of William Shakespeare through exploration of the text in a fun, imaginative and thematic way. It is also an opportunity for teachers of Year 1-8 students to explore their core curriculum through a new dramatic lens.

This programme started as a prototype in Wellington, to be replicated in other cities if and when desired.

Ania Upstill assisted SGCNZ to coordinate the joint performances by primary school students in the Wellington region for the past three years. In its inaugural year in 2014 SGCNZ’s Primarily Playing with Shakespeare invited students and adults alike on a magical trip into the forest of Athens with its enchanting production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The following year, primary students from five different schools, along with their audience, embarked on a turbulent journey with The Tempest, and in 2016 SGCNZ mounted its biggest Primary Playing with Shakespeare production so far when 250 primary school students battled each other at the Westpac Stadium in Shakespeare’s epic play Henry V.

Mentoring is available to teachers and students involved in the project, ensuring that the whole experience is not only fun, but also educational for all parties, and that the resulting production meets and exceeds audience’s expectations.


  • To foster Shakespeare in primary and intermediate schools
  • To build capability which advances the learning of both teachers and students
  • To demystify Shakespeare and lift his words off the page in a tangible way
  • To encourage young people to recognise their skills, and use them with imagination and creativity in the classroom
  • To envisage and explore realms around Shakespeare’s plays and their characters
  • To use specific tools and techniques as a “way into” any part of the curriculum
  • To develop another fun physical way to teach and learn
  • To work towards young people performing Shakespeare-inspired scenes in Artsplash


Students will be able to:

  • Experience bringing text to life
  • Engage with literary techniques and figures of speech at an early age
  • Find ways they can explore text in a physical way
  • Gain confidence and skills in the use of language
  • Advance communication skills
  • Enhance reading and comprehension
  • Promote performance skills
  • Develop self-confidence and esteem

Teachers will be able to:

  • Advance their knowledge of Shakespeare’s text
  • Further develop the use of exercises and tools to encourage imagination in both student and self
  • Apply techniques which allow students to take the text off the page and bring it to life
  • Gain confidence and skill in analysing text
  • Discover other ways to utilise drama to teach any part of the core primary curriculum.

This is NOT a competition, simply a showing of work in progress.