More than 26,000 students logged on for the first-ever live ReadThrough event held on Thursday 11th Feb, with a cast including Joe Lycett, Pearl Mackie, Remmie Milner and Esther Smith performing Macbeth to aide student’s comprehension of the curriculum text.
ReadThrough was set up by a group of professionals from television, film and theatre and launched earlier this week, offering online play readings and school workshops designed to improve the comprehension of exam-body English plays for students across the UK, with a particular focus on students from less privileged backgrounds.
The team were inundated with sign-ups for the first live reading, with 624 schools signing up (students had to sign up via their schools for safeguarding and performance rights purposes). The organisation will hold regular live readings as well as running tailored workshops for individual schools, and the next live reading, of Romeo & Juliet, will take place in March with Simon Callow among the cast.
The cast for Macbeth were: Nari Blair-Mangat (Macbeth), Pearl Mackie (Lady Macbeth), Esther Smith (Malcolm / Second Witch), Remmie Milner (Banquo / Gentlewoman / Siward), Josh Williams (Macduff / Third Witch / Murderer / Messenger), Alasdair Buchan (Duncan, Lennox, Doctor), Edward Franklin (First witch / Ross / Seyton) and Caitlin Albery Beavan (stage directions), with a special appearance from Joe Lycett as The Porter. The reading was directed by award-winning director Hannah Price.
The Covid-19 pandemic has had a devastating effect on both education and the arts. With the UK in lockdown many students are now struggling with studying at home and any access that previously existed to live, in-person learning, either at a theatre or via theatre-in-education, has been impeded. ReadThrough is built on the belief that seeing a story brought to life enriches the learning process and gives far greater insight into themes, context and characters within the text. The team behind ReadThrough have seen first-hand how the live reading of exam texts can enhance students’ understanding of curriculum texts and enrich their learning experience.
The ReadThrough founders said: “We have been overwhelmed by the level of interest, which has been quite something for our small team to manage. To have more than 26,000 students and teachers tuning in was incredibly exciting, and the feedback we have already received from students and schools has been phenomenal. Our aim is to hold regular live readings for all students to attend as they please, and we hope to raise enough money to run individual workshops for as many schools as possible.”
To support the ReadThrough Kickstarter campaign, click here.