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David Oakes: Schools should teach lesser known Shakespeare plays

The Victoria star said he would like to see the more obscure plays on the syllabus.

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David Oakes is best known for playing Prince Ernest in ITV period drama Victoria (Ian West/PA)

Victoria star David Oakes has said he would like to see the lesser known Shakespeare plays taught in schools.

The actor, best known for playing Prince Ernest in the ITV period drama, said an attempt should be made to broaden people’s horizons, rather than just teaching the most popular texts.

“We always had Midsummer Night’s Dream and we had Hamlet, I didn’t do Richard III but you get to know the famous ones.

“I remember going to university and doing Cymbeline for the first time and playing Posthumus and going ‘This is awesome, this is ridiculous’.

“And it’s this peculiarity that gives the cockiness of someone like a me a chance to go ‘Yeah, I know the weird ones’.

“I think maybe if we spent more time on trying to broaden people’s horizons of Shakespeare, they might find something more interesting to latch on to.

“If we just do Richard III over and over and over again they might just end up thinking they need to be Machiavellian and have a hump.”

Oakes is one of a host of stars, including Outnumbered actor Hugh Dennis and Fresh Meat star Tony Gardner, who will make up the cast of Trial Of Richard III, a one-off charity production that puts the Shakespearean character on trial for the murder of his heirs, rivals, friends and wives.

The show, organised by the Shakespeare Schools Foundation (SSF) and featuring young actors from the charity’s national festival, will feature real-life criminal barristers.

Oakes will play the Duke of Buckingham opposite A Very English Scandal star Caleb Roberts, as Richard III.

Roberts, who is an alumnus of the SSF, said: “Regardless of what anyone wants to do I think it’s a vital company to give children power and confidence and an interest in something that they might not normally be interested in.

“You start Shakespeare at 12 years old behind the desk, trying to dissect what this stuff is, what this language is, and it can be very dry and very boring, and if they give the chance to a child to speak it as it should be, it just gives children a confidence that they might not necessarily get, it’s a great company.”

Trial Of Richard III is at the Novello Theatre on April 29.

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