King Lear summer school 2024

workshops at The Playground Theatre September 9 - 14 with Bill Alexander and Michael Corbidge

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We are offering a six day ‘full immersion’ on King Lear, considered by many to be Shakespeare’s greatest play, from September 9th – 14th in London.
The course will take place at The Playground Theatre, Latimer Road W10 from 10:00 – 17:00 each day.

The workshops will be led by two directors that have worked with us on numerous occasions.

Bill Alexander is our Artistic Director and an Honorary Associate Artist at the Royal Shakespeare Company. He directed many notable productions at the RSC over a long period and later at Birmingham Rep. Bill directed Corin Redgrave as Lear at the RSC in 2004. One of the most acclaimed directors of Shakespeare working in the English language, Bill has a hotline to Shakespeare, it’s in his DNA. His book Exploring Shakespeare - A Director’s Notes from the Rehearsal Room was published last spring by Nick Hern Books. Bill will lead the workshops on September 9, 10, 11.

Michael Corbidge is an RSC voice coach and community theatre specialist. He led the 2021 summer school at The Playground Theatre on Twelfth Night and Two Merchants of Modena with director Lucy Bailey. He ran the module on Measure for Measure with Sue Tordoff for our summer school last year in Volterra. Michael leads Shakespeare workshops worldwide and has his own company in Kent. He will work with the summer school participants on September 12, 13 and 14.

How to sign up for this unique opportunity –

Anyone over the age of 16 from anywhere in the world who is fluent in English and has a passion for Shakespeare is more than welcome to join the summer school.

We ask for an £80 non refundable deposit to secure your spot.
The price of the course is £480 i.e. £80 per day.
The deposit will be deducted from the overall cost.

Your full fee must be paid by July 9th which is eight weeks before the summer school begins.

You can sign up for as many or as few days as you like however to get the full benefit of a deeper insight into the play, we recommend six days.

We take a maximum of 22 people so that the group doesn’t become unwieldy.

Please email Mary Chater at to sign up.
Places are starting to go quite quickly so don’t delay paying the deposit if you’d like to join us.

The closest tubes are Latimer Road and Ladbroke Grove.

There is an excellent Thai restaurant across the road from the theatre with a small Tesco and other food shops close by on North Pole Road. The theatre serves tea, coffee, soft drinks and alcohol at the bar.

Theatre website - has directions on how to get there.

For our 3 day autumn course Bill Alexander will work on The Merchant of Venice from October 17 - 19 at The Playground Theatre, Latimer Rd, W10.

Bill has directed The Merchant several times including at the RSC with Tony Sher as Shylock. Our first production was Bill's new 6 character version in late 2021 also at The Playground.

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Bill's new book Exploring Shakespeare, A Director's Notes from the Rehearsal Room, was published by Nick Hern Books in May this year.

' Bill Alexander is a brilliant director, whose work has powerfully shaped my understanding of Shakespeare's plays, Richard III most of all'

James Shapiro, author of 1599: A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare

The cost is £225 for the 3 days of workshops - £75 per day. We will work from 10.00 - 4.00 with 30 mins for lunch each day. 

Bill says any edition of the play is fine to bring along.

16 - 18 year olds free places available on application.

Please email Mary Chater at for details of how to enrol and any questions you may have.

Volterra summer school September 11 - 19 with Janet Suzman on Coriolanus and Measure for Measure with Michael Corbidge and Sue Tordoff

Participants coming from India, New Zealand, Singapore, USA, Holland, Italy and UK - two spaces still remaining

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Most Shakespeare summer schools have an academic bias, ours does not.
We work on the plays from an actor's pov. Shakespeare wrote for actors to bring the world of the plays to life which is what we aim to do.

You are most welcome to join us even if you want to watch rather than take part in the scene work.

Come to learn, laugh and be moved by Shakespeare's masterpieces and the work we do as a group.

Being in Italy enhances the experience - Italy makes your heart grow bigger as theatre director Peter Stein said.

Monday September 11th is arrival day.

Sept 12, 13, 14 are the days we work with Janet Suzman on Coriolanus in the beautiful Teatro Persio Flacco.

Friday 15th is a free day for you to explore Volterra with a guided tour in the morning.

16, 17, 18 are the days that Michael Corbidge and Sue Tordoff lead the module on Measure for Measure.

Tuesday 19th September is the departure day.


The pdf for this year's summer school is below.

Please email Mary Chater at for further info.

Many thanks and here's to seeing you in Volterra in September - salute!

2 short videos of Apples and Eyes 2 - our young peoples' summer school in 2022

The Arts Council and BHCC Community fund supported 4 day creative arts course for 13 - 18 year olds in #BrightonandHove

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Film maker Matthew Kowalczuk filmed the four days and made these short videos taken from the beginning of The Tempest.
Afra Nuarey was his assistant.

The young people made props and costumes with Tonya Easter and Janis Bridle, rehearsed and acted the scenes with Mary Chater and created the accompanying music with Sarah Sayeed.

 In 2022 we worked at One Garden in Stanmer Park with Caroline Vitta and Trust for Developing Communites.

We hope to run our third 4 day summer school in August this year if we can get another Arts Council and BHCC Community Grant.

Please see links for the videos


Exploring Shakespeare by Bill Alexander is out on May 18th

Our Artistic Director, #RSCHonoraryAssociate Bill Alexander's new book is published by Nick Hern Books on May 18th

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Exploring Shakespeare
A Director's Notes from the Rehearsal Room
By Bill Alexander

Paperback £16.99 early bird price -£13.59 This edition isn't available yet, but you can be amongst the first to receive it by pre-ordering now!

Ebook £16.99 early bird price - £13.59

Available soon

In Exploring Shakespeare, our acclaimed Artistic Director Bill Alexander takes us inside the rehearsal room to reveal – in unprecedented and captivating detail – exactly what happens there. He examines the key relationship between the actors and the director, how they work together to bring Shakespeare's vision to life, and how choices are made that will shape every aspect of the play in production.

Full of acute observations and perceptions drawn from a long and brilliant career, the book covers the essential aspects of any Shakespeare production, from understanding the world of the play, to preparing and cutting the text, deciding on costumes and set design, handling soliloquies, and considering character and backstory.

There are detailed studies of eight plays spanning the full length and breadth of the Shakespearean canon, from Titus Andronicus and The Shrew to The Tempest, via Macbeth, Othello, Hamlet, Lear and Twelfth Night. Alexander also provides first-hand case studies of three of his own productions, including his famous Richard III starring Antony Sher.

Personal, forthright, and full of pragmatic advice, Exploring Shakespeare is a masterclass for directors and actors, and a fascinating insight for anyone interested in Shakespeare.

'Bill Alexander is a brilliant director, whose work has powerfully shaped my understanding of Shakespeare's plays, Richard III most of all' James Shapiro, author of 1599: A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare

'Theatre is the greatest of collaborative art forms, and Shakespeare its greatest exponent: he used the form better than anyone else ever has to speak truth about the world.'