News from the Geopark

School children preform Shakespeare's Macbeth underground

5 Nov 2018

School children preform Shakespeare's Macbeth underground

Students from four primary schools in Torbay are to perform a promenade version of Shakespeare’s Macbeth underground in Kents Cavern as part of their Shakespeare studies.  Teachers from the schools have worked with Butterfly Theatre to incorporate theatre-based approaches to studying Shakespeare into the classroom.  

The schools involved are Shiphay Learning Academy, Torre C of E Academy, Oldway Primary School, and Roselands Primary School. Butterfly Theatre worked as director mentors alongside the teachers inspiring them to become directors and to create their own unique Butterfly promenade version of Shakespeare’s classic play around the different chambers of the caves.

Butterfly have over a decade of experience performing Shakespeare in Kents Cavern.  This is the 11th year that the London-based players have delighting audiences with site-specific, promenade theatre in the underground chambers of Kents Cavern. Butterfly Theatre Company, funded by the Arts Council, brings this two-pronged project inspiring the next generation to connect to Shakespeare in an entirely new way to Devon.  

James Hull, general manager at Kents Cavern said: “Over the years we’ve got used to quality Shakespearian performers in the caves and I am amazed at the quality and enthusiasm of these young actors. They have produced an extraordinary event that their parents will be very proud of when they see them deliver the play.”

Emma Gorman Lead teacher at Shiphay Learning Academy and coordinator of the four schools involved in the project, said: “Wow! What an amazing start to the project when we did our first run-through at Kents Cavern.  It was fantastic to see all the children so engaged and motivated during the workshop and the visit to the caves; they really took ownership of their sections. We definitely have a number of budding actors and directors among each cast! It’s been a fantastic opportunity for the four schools and 40 children to have this rare chance to work with professional artists in such an extraordinary environment.”  -

Aileen Gonsalves, director of Butterfly Theatre and founder of the Gonsalves Technique says: “Butterfly is renowned for bringing classic texts vividly to life in extraordinary settings. They create unforgettable site-specific productions which illuminate with their visceral accessibility, intrigue and amaze. This project sees them share their professional expertise and their unique Gonsalves Method approach with local teachers and young people.

Every year for 10 years Emma Gorman has brought classes of tiny little ones in their bright high viz jackets to come and watch the plays in Kents Cavern. I remember the first year arguing with her that they might be too young and now we watch in amazement at their entranced faces following all the action. 

Most memorably kneeling with Macduff in unison, unbidden at the end of Macbeth to hail their new King, and unconsciously joining in to recite, at full volume, the prologue to Romeo and Juliet. Working with Emma on this has been amazing, and we’ve been, as always, totally supported and enabled by the dedicated team at Kents Cavern led by general manager James Hull.  Seeing the young people own not only the language but their interpretation of the play and how they express themselves in response to to the caves as we have done all these years has been a joy!

We are thrilled to have got Arts Council funding this year to enable us to create a project that we hope will build on this decade-long cultural experiment and make it a regular feature of the cultural calendar in the  English Riviera UNESCO Global Geopark taking it onto the next generation. ”

Nick Powe, director of Kents Cavern said: “We’ve worked with Butterfly for over a decade and I am delighted that the Arts Council is supporting this fantastic project with young people.   The following week Butterfly performs their thrilling retelling of Shakespeare’s timeless much-loved comedy A Midsummer Night’s Dream. This enchanting tale of how young lovers - thwarted by their parents - run away to the caves where they become unwittingly drawn into the secrets and spells of the magical creatures that dwell underground. Performances for school groups are available daily for local schools and evening performances.

Listings Info:

Midsummer Night’s Dream

Kents Cavern Ilsham Road, Torquay, England, TQ1 2JF

Wednesday 7th to Saturday 10th November 2018 @ 7:00pm

Running time: (no longer than) 1 hour 15 mins

Tickets available: www.kents-cavern.co.uk Tickets £16

*This is a promenade-style performance where audience will walk and stand throughout. Sturdy shoes must be worn (no flip-flops) or you will not be permitted. Caves can get cool in the evening; please dress accordingly.


We are holding a press invite on Tuesday 30th October between 4.15pm to 4.45pm to film the children rehearsing Macbeth and hold interviews with the teachers, children, Butterfly Theatre cast and Kents Cavern Staff.  Please confirm if you wish to attend by emailing James Hull, General Manager at Jameshull@kents-cavern.co.uk