Learning Projects Story

Harrow School's long-standing tradition of Shakespeare

   The school’s historical relationship with Shakespeare’s Globe and how recent funds raised will launch a new drama training project for students

3 minute read

Harrow School’s annual tradition of performing Shakespeare dates back to 1941 when, as the story goes, the roof of their Speech Room was bombed, inspiring a production of Twelfth Night to be staged open air and partially in the round – playing conditions reminiscent of Shakespeare’s original Globe.

Harrow Beak (teacher) and director Ronnie Watkins, who was a key advisor in planning the reconstruction of the Globe Theatre with our founder, Sam Wanamaker, produced the 1941 Twelfth Night, as well as numerous others to follow. The ‘Ronnie Watkins Studio’, a rehearsal and educational workshop space in our complex, is named in his honour.

Benedict Cumberbatch, Nick Luck and staff & students from Harrow School in The Taming of the Shrew, 1994.

Over Shakespeare’s birthday weekend in April 1994, three years before our official opening, Harrow School made their debut at Shakespeare’s Globe, and staged their annual production within the scaffold of the ‘wooden O’. The play that year was The Taming of the Shrew, and featured Benedict Cumberbatch and Nick Luck as the sparring leading characters, Petruchio and Katherine. Although Watkins was in the audience, direction had passed to another Beak, Jeremy Lemmon, who inspired a further generation of pupils at Harrow School to love and study the Bard’s work.

A woman stands on a stage reading from a piece of paper

Joanna Lumley in the Globe Theatre, 2019. Photographer: Cesare De Giglio.

Last spring, we were thrilled to invite Harrow School back to perform in the Globe Theatre once more after 25 years, and a company of over 40 students – actors, musicians and production crew – spanning all year groups, echoed their first Shakespearean performance and presented Twelfth Night.

At the end of the performance, Joanna Lumley announced proceeds from the event’s ticket sales would establish the annual Jeremy Lemmon Project, in which Harrow boys and pupils from local partner schools will work together with mentoring from Globe actors, and with access to our stages.

Programme for Twelfth Night, 2019.

The Harrow journey with Shakespeare continues, as this January sees the launch of the Jeremy Lemmon Project.

We cannot wait to welcome students back to our theatres once again this June for a series of monologues and scenes from Shakespeare in our Sam Wanamaker Playhouse.

‘We are delighted to be developing this longstanding relationship with Harrow School. Funds raised from the school’s 2019 performance of Twelfth Night in the Globe enabled us to establish the Jeremy Lemmon Project to support drama training in state schools across the Borough of Harrow. The project will enable students to work on Shakespeare monologues and prepare them for drama school auditions. It will culminate in a sharing in the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse’

— Patrick Spottiswoode. Director, Globe Education