Enriching masterclass for English Advanced students

To assist Year 12 English Advanced students with their evolving understanding of William Shakespeare, the IGS English Department invited acclaimed Shakespearean theatre company Sport for Jove to conduct a symposium on the text.

The students are studying William Shakespeare’s powerful meditation on leadership, nation-building, and honour King Henry IV Part 1 as their core text for Module B: Critical Study of Literature.

“The Symposium came at a key point in students’ study of the the text and we hoped that it would enrich their understanding, and did it ever,” said Head of English and Philosophy Thom Marchbank.

“Director of Sport for Jove Damien Ryan and his actors wove together a masterclass of hermeneutics and performance, drawing in subtle and powerful interpretations, as well as allowing the students crucial insights into the ways that actors and directors build the world of the text backstage.

“Crucially, Damien emphasised the humanity of Shakespeare’s characters throughout the whole text – not just the major roles – and sketched in the play’s astonishingly clever antitheses, from the two worlds of court and tavern, to the two sons, Hotspur and Hal, and two fathers, Falstaff and King Henry IV.

“We were delighted at the rare gift that students had been given, and all came away buzzing with ideas.”


Felix Tonkin: “I found the Sport for Jove incursion captivating and highly informative. Learning Shakespeare in a classroom is one thing, but watching Shakespearean actors performing and engaging with the text really served to unlock it for us. The actors showed us the multiple different ways to play the characters, their personalities coming to life. When you can connect to a play as a piece of theatre, you can understand it in ways you otherwise couldn’t.”

Esha Patel: “In Thursday’s Sport for Jove Workshop, Damien Ryan broke down King Henry IV in ways I never would have thought to, providing a brand new perspective. With these new insights, not only was I able to appreciate the true beauty behind Shakespeare’s language, I began to fall in love with the play itself.”

Aidan Hale: “The insight provided by Sport For Jove’s analysis and rendition of King Henry IV was enlightening, but most importantly it was fun! The manner in which they performed it was engaging, and now I have a better idea of how I’ll construct my critical response for the upcoming assignment. It was great to see Damien again, his expertise in understanding the language of Shakespeare really shined through.”

Jamison Power: “I found this morning extremely rewarding. It provided an in-depth analysis of the text, while the actors also performed small moments from the play, enabling us to put into context what was being spoken about. At the same time, it was also humorous, making it an enjoyable viewing experience which will definitely help me in my upcoming assessments.”

Therese Briganti: “I found the workshop to be extremely valuable. It was really useful to have scenes deconstructed in depth, and to gain further insight into the text’s context and its cultural and historical significance. It was especially helpful to have the opportunity to watch the scenes being performed, which provided me with a more profound understanding and appreciation of them.”