Romeo and Juliet teaching students new skills

Posted on 27 September 2016 by Anna Masci

Students performing Romeo and Juliet

Recently, students from MacKillop Education Services in Geelong performed a localised, modernised version of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet for the local community. The impact of the play stretched far beyond the 60 minutes of entertainment the community enjoyed.

Introducing the play, General Manager of Education Services Anne Henderson, explained the work that all 45 students have undertaken over the past two terms to pull the production together: writing the play, designing and building the set, and coordinating the costumes and make-up.

Anne explained that through the process of producing and performing the play, the students have gained new skills, built their confidence and worked together as a team. 

Most importantly, the play provided the students with the opportunity to find the best in themselves, discover what they enjoy and what they’re capable of, and understand their value in the community.

“It’s one of the best things I’ve done at school. Everybody’s done a great job to be ready” – Student at the MacKillop School.

Showcasing their creativity, the students incorporated video games, local burger joints and Facebook into the traditional love story, with a relationship status change on Facebook sparking the rivalry between the two Shakespearean families, the Montagues and the Capulets.

The MacKillop School supports students who have difficulty fitting in to the mainstream schooling system by providing intensive, individualised trauma-informed learning support.

The production of the play enhanced the Secondary School Curriculum and is a demonstration of our commitment to the Sanctuary Model. The Sanctuary Model is the foundation for how MacKillop works with clients, students and each other. The Model enables an organisation to create a safe, non-violent environment that teaches people to cope effectively with stress and trauma, and heal their emotional and behavioural health issues.

Through the adoption of the Sanctuary Model, and a commitment to trauma-informed learning, the MacKillop School equips students with the skills they require to return to their mainstream school and engage in and embrace their education.

In preparing for the play, students demonstrated the impact of the Sanctuary Model by respecting and sharing ideas, engaging in shared decision-making and committing to new experiences.

Sharing this experience on-stage, the students embraced the opportunity to engage in their community and share their new skills.

Working closely with the students to produce the play, MacKillop Teacher Brad Clough said the experience was challenging and rewarding.

“It’s been a great way to challenge the kids and teach them about working together. The play took the students on a journey and helped them discover what they’re capable of,” Brad said.

The play concluded with a ‘Behind the scenes’ video that demonstrated the amount of work undertaken by the students and provided an insight into their two-month journey.

Student Shaun Matthews who performed on stage recognises the benefits of the project. “It’s probably one of the best things I’ve done at school. Everybody’s done a great job,” he said.

By becoming a regular giver your support will make sure that innovative programs like this can continue to achieve great results for children and young people.