The annual RSC artist residency is one of the partnership activities that Dulwich schools host with the Royal Shakespeare Company Learning (RSC Learning). Pre-COVID, RSC Learning sent their associate practitioners to conduct in-person workshops on campus, offering a direct and immersive experience for students and teachers with the focus in performance. However, the residency has moved online since the pandemic began, where different approaches are required.

For 2022 the RSC Learning Artist Residency in Dulwich Zhuhai, our Head of Drama, Ms Sim has worked with RSC associate practitioner, Ollie Lynes, to bring a series of innovative and inspiring activities to the students, breaking the conventional thinking that Drama is simply about performing on stage. The workshops began with exploring the relevance of Shakespeare in 2022 and the history of its performances, to then getting the students involved more in creating the other elements of Drama and how to use them in story-telling. Being introduced to various elements of Drama and being engaged in different types of activities, our students were led to explore Drama and Performing Arts with multiple perspectives in the five-day experience.


A surprise-delivery was sent to Dulwich Zhuhai this year, all the way from Shakespeare’s hometown, Stratford-upon-Avon, where also the Royal Shakespeare Company is based. It is a Play-in-a-Box suitcase with fabric samples from the costumes used in the Shakespeare productions and photos of past productions. Not only has the priceless box provided bespoke learning materials, but it has also inspired the DHZH community to continue to work with Shakespeare in a creative and vivid way.


Let's take a quick walk through this year's workshops.

Day 1 - Past, Present and Future of Shakespeare

Shakespeare’s Relevance in 2022 and Evolution of Shakespeare’s performances


An activity we did in Day 1 was “Shakespeare or Hip-Hop”. Students were shown six lines and they had to guess whether the lines were from Shakespeare or Hip-Hop song lyrics. However, most students did not get the right answers! Through the activity, students definitely realized that we shouldn’t be too quick to judge Shakespeare as being “ancient” or “not of the times”.


Day 2 - Breaking the 4th Wall 

Investigating Storytelling through Design and Performance Beyond the Proscenium Arch

Sessions on Day 2 and Day 3 were definitely highlights of the whole series of this year. It was amazing to see what students can come up with when given the right prompts and asked the right questions.

Using ‘Macbeth’ as the starting point, students were asked to use Zhuhai city as the setting and to think about what the Witches would look like in 2022.

Some students put the Witches into colourful anime-like costumes, dressing themselves up as nuns and beautiful gowns, while some decided to use the shopping mall and garbage dump as the setting.

What was even more impressive were new versions of ‘Macbeth’ they came up with:

  • the Witches are sea creatures and Macbeth is a fisherman;
  • the Witches as male fortune-tellers and Macbeth as a man who obeys his mother;
  • having a female scientist to be the ‘Macbeth’ character and the three Witches were a politician, a journalist and a sales manager at a pharmaceutical company.

Using the backdrop of the global pandemic to highlight gender inequality in industries that do not hold females in high regards, also highlights the ability of DHZH students to CREATE and that’s one of the major goals of this residency: to show that they can become creators.

The second session had the students going around the campus to look for spaces that can help to impact the performances.

The “Witches” meeting in the dressing room; Romeo and Juliet meeting in the open space on the 2nd floor outdoor garden; secret conversations held in the corridors of the basement; the “Witches” performing near the senior student lounge on the 2nd floor with the audience looking down from the 3rd floor through the glass windows. Again, students were required to think about spaces beyond the theatre for performances. It is not something that is widely done in schools but definitely something we would like to try in the future.


Again, students were required to think about spaces beyond the theatre for performances. It is not something that is widely done in schools but definitely something we would like to try in the future.


Day 3 - Something Old to Something New

Devising and Adapting Shakespeare

Built on the foundation of what we did in Day 2, students had to develop the stories they started on. We had different version of “Witches”, from entertainers (solo singers, girl groups), anime characters, to bartenders with their specialty cocktails, as well as played with the idea of winning some-losing some. At the end of the day, the message that Shakespeare is about the human condition was sent across. This again helped to re-emphasize the relevance of Shakespeare in 2022.


Day 4&5 - Performing a Monologue, Duologues, Chorus, Scenes

Day 4 and Day 5 focused more on the performing aspect of Drama, helping students break down the barrier when performing Shakespeare. The session on performing monologues encouraged students to look at the lines from the text and focus on words that appealed to them. They worked through the character’s emotional journey within the monologue with different activities led by Mr Lynes. What students realized at the end was that Shakespeare’s language is not too difficult. It was also really exciting to see students put so gusto into performing a monologue together.

The group performance session focused on working together with a partner, the power dynamics between two characters and how the same lines can be performed differently. Students physicalized the power dynamics by moving forward and back, by adding simple actions and body contact.


“Must witches be ugly under dark cloaks? Must fairies be pretty with swift wings? I was stunned by the cultural adaptability of Shakespeare plays and modern directors’ ingenuity when racking my brain through the photo sorting game in one of the workshops. We had it so wrong when putting Peter Brook’s bold adaption of ’A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ in 1970 onto the very modern end of our timeline. His challenge or even rejection to the traditions simply made the stage more of a conceptual wonderland. While humbled by the creativity in modern theatrics, it was unexpectedly encouraging when Mr Lynes and Ms Sim proved to us the crazy similarity between Shakespeare’s poetic language and the lyrics of rap songs." 

-- Devon W, Y13

"We were really amazed by the new stories that created by students using ‘Macbeth’ as a starting point. All the stories that the students started have potential to be developed into a full-length play. This is very encouraging because at Dulwich Zhuhai, we really hope to see that students realise that all of them have the capacity to create, whether it’s a storyline, or a piece of costumes for the characters on stage. They have shown through the workshops that they can be challenged to think out-of-the-box and we all know how important that is in our ever-changing world."

-- Ms Audrey Sim, Head of Drama

Drama at Dulwich College is important as it celebrates the legacy of our founder, Mr Edward Alleyn. Mr Alleyn was an actor linked to Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre and an entrepreneur in the world of Elizabethan and Jacobean theatre. His vision for establishing a school was to provide sound learning, strong artistic pursuits and good manners.

Drama at DHZH