UPDATE WillShake's Henry V is now available to watch in full. Click here to explore WillShake.

Following our recent announcement that Short Form Film Company's groundbreaking adaptation of William Shakespeare's Henry V will be joining Digital Theatre Plus for a limited period this March, we are thrilled to be able to provide more detail on this innovative partnership.

A brand-new children’s film adaptation of Shakespeare’s Henry V, starring a cast of 8 to 10 year-olds from Northumberland and featuring narration by award-winning actor, Tom Hiddleston, is to make its world premiere in primary schools throughout the UK during Shakespeare Week (16-22 March 2015). 

Placing young audiences at its heart, WillShake’s Henry V sees the great history play told by children for children for the very first time. Its producers are looking to shape a change in how young people are introduced to Shakespeare, sharing his works with a new generation in a way that will ignite imagination, grab attention and support a life long enjoyment of his stories.

More than one million children will be invited to take a front row seat and create their own ‘red carpet’ event for the world premiere on Tuesday 17th March, as part of a national Watchalong. Screened at 10:30am, teachers can log into Digital Theatre Plus and unite their classes with thousands of others around the UK, tuning in to watch the first-ever screening of this new take on the classic Shakespeare tale.

Children will also have the opportunity to join in a virtual post-show Q&A with the film’s creators, Short Form Film Company, and comment in real time on Google and Twitter (#WillShakeWatchalong).

The film’s Director Joe Talbot focuses on the characters and themes of the play, simplifies the plot, and presents a tale about growing up, becoming a man and becoming a King through live action, enhanced by beautiful animation.

In the 15-minute adaptation, the story is told by a young WillShake, a boy with a trunk of theatrical tricks who likes to tell stories. The role is played by 9-year-old Jonnie Kimmins, with Kian Graham, aged 8, in the title role. Children from Holy Trinity CE First School in Berwick, Northumberland, make up the rest of the cast, which was filmed on location at Bamburgh Castle and the surrounding area last January.

WillShake’s Henry V will be hosted by the world’s leading online HD performing arts resource, Digital Theatre Plus, where it will sit alongside acclaimed shows by the RSC and Shakespeare’s Globe. It will be screened as part of Shakespeare Week, the national celebration organised by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, and is just one of a host of free Shakespeare Week activities and resources available to every primary school in the UK.

Award-winning actor Tom Hiddleston said:

"With WillShake, Joe Talbot and Emily Blacksell have achieved something wonderful. They have completely reimagined the possibilities for children and their first contact with Shakespeare. Their Henry V film is fresh, dynamic and so lovingly crafted that it's impossible not to stand up for it. Bravo."

Director Joe Talbot said:

“We wanted to let children hear the language, feel the mood and see the story unfold in the most exciting, dynamic and relevant way. The blend of Shakespeare, film and digital technology allows young people in every corner of the UK to connect with the tale.”

Emily Blacksell, WillShake Producer, said:

“Our aim with WillShake is to present a ‘first taste’ of Shakespeare, that preserves the brilliance of the original plays but that also captivates a modern, young audience using the highest possible film and animation production techniques. In the 600th anniversary year of the Battle of Agincourt, it seems particularly timely to revisit Henry V, in a way that reflects our digital age.”

Jacqueline Green, Head of Learning and Participation at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, organiser of Shakespeare Week, adds:

“There is a quality of listening and engagement when young people watch children playing adult roles, and the magic of this is truly harnessed in WillShake’s Henry V. This is a truly innovative and groundbreaking approach, which we are delighted to be introducing to more than 6,000 schools taking part in Shakespeare Week.”

Fiona Lindsay, Creative Producer for Digital Theatre Plus, said:

“This collaboration brings the Bard bang up-to-date and unravels the creative process by giving children an insight into the world of filmmaking. We couldn’t be more proud to be a part of it.”

Willshake’s Henry V is the first in a new series of films being made by Short Form Film Company. It will be available to view for free exclusively on Digital Theatre Plus from Monday 16 March to celebrate Shakespeare Week, until Shakespeare’s birthday on the 26 April 2015.

A resource kit packed with behind the scenes footage will also be available, including interviews with the creative team and a competition for a class to win a filmmaking workshop in Stratford-upon-Avon. For details of how to enter, click here.

The WillShake Watchalong is free to all schools registered to take part in Shakespeare Week. To sign up for free go to www.shakespeareweek.org.uk

WillShake’s Henry V will be available to watch at 10:30am on Tuesday 17th March 2015 on www.digitaltheatreplus.com.

For everything you need to know about joining the WillShake Watchalong with Digital Theatre Plus, click here.