S4A is one of Hong Kong's leading performance arts learning organisations. It is a registered charity founded in 2003 with the purpose of building fluency and confidence in English through drama performing Shakespearean plays. It is recognised throughout Hong Kong for its spectacular annual Shakespeare Gala event, supported by founding sponsor SWIRE Properties and has provided drama experiences to thousands of students from aided, direct subsidy, government and private schools in the region.
It is our mission to inspire young people to aspire to excellence:
INSPIRE: Offering a learning environment that is creative, original and structured
ASPIRE: A demanding but imaginative framework that involves new thinking and disciplines
EXCELLENCE: Drawing out the potential in students to be the best they can be
A word from Mr. Hugh Bonneville
Spending an hour exploring a play with young students for whom English is a second language was going to be tough. When the play is by a writer who died 400 years ago… well, that was going to be impossible. Surely. How wrong I was.
The energy, commitment and open minds with which the children from The Cotton Spinners School approached Shakespeare’s Macbeth that afternoon brought the play alive for me as never before.
What Shakespeare4All is achieving in Hong Kong shouldn’t be underestimated. It’s giving young people the confidence to stand up in front of and with their peers, collaborating in the common purpose of making theatre, helping them to unlock their imaginations and to conquer challenges of language and communication they might otherwise have considered beyond their reach.
It’s an invaluable initiative and I was delighted to spend some time with the students and mentors alike."
On the 26th of November, 2015,
Mr. Bonneville came to Hong Kong to run a masterclass with 30 students from Cotton Spinners Association Secondary School, in collaboration with S4A.
The Evolution of S4A
Shiona is fondly referred to as the ‘heart and soul’ of S4A and took over the role of Artistic Director in late 2014 at a time when the company had been running out of steam with no Artistic Director to lead the way for almost 18 months. Despite the daunting task of knowing that the company had very little resources or schools engaged in their programmes she gathered a very small team who were equally dedicated and passionate to build a think tank and take the company right back to its core values and mission. It was during this time the decision to morph into an all-round ‘Children’s English Theatre Company’ came into fruition with the help of the steadfast support of S4A’s founding sponsor, Swire Properties and the Board Directors. This initiative would allow Shakespeare4All to step away from being known just as an “Arts Education” organisation that used only Shakespeare’s work to improve and build confidence in the English language. S4A could now reshape their vision and mission under the Children’s English Theatre Company umbrella by building a creative and experiential learning environment that empowers young people using not only Shakespeare’s work, but original plays and the medium of drama and theatre technical training to achieve it.
It is the word “All” in our name that Shiona uses as the impetus for her creation of works, performances, drama workshops and community projects. She believes that every child should have access to quality drama and theatrical experiences, and over the 7 years that she has been at the helm, she has built a strong, resilient, and passionate team of professionals to ensure that this goal is met, sustained, and continues to reach forward.
Under her direction, Shiona has brought theatre in education touring shows, age specific theatre, drama workshops, youth empowerment programs and professional development training to an outreach of over 80,000 young people. The S4A team ensures that these programmes reach marginalized and grassroot communities, direct subsidy schools and individuals, minority groups and young people from disadvantaged backgrounds. The whole purpose of reaching out to these marginalized communities is to give these young people the same level of quality drama training and experience as well as equal opportunities to be involved in projects that can empower and build confidence in their own self-worth and belief in themselves through the transformative medium of drama.
Since 2016, S4A is now recognized as a leader in the field of Children’s Performance Arts in Hong Kong and its’ annual awe-inspiring sell-out Gala performances of one of William Shakespeare’s greatest plays is evidence of this claim. The play is rearranged to meet the eye of ‘All’ people from Hong Kong by aligning themes, songs, dances, and the city’s history to make the work accessible as well as demonstrating that Shakespeare’s ability to capture the essence of humanity was created to be appreciated and to connect us All. Children between the ages of 8-15 are chosen not for their ability to speak English, but because they have shown strength of character that they want to learn by challenging their abilities to reach higher than they ever thought they could. They have an opportunity to grow in a caring environment where they can make friends and bring alive the words of the greatest playwright and poet in history of all time. The quality and impact of the annual gala productions have attracted sponsorship for the charity from the Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust, SWIRE Trust, First Initiative Foundation, The Vincent and Lily Woo Foundation, The Jessie & George Ho Charitable Foundation, Rotary Hong Kong South Island and St George Society of Hong Kong Branch.
Shiona’s creation of ‘HUBUB’ which is a theatre for the very young sensory theatre piece was first commissioned by the Arts Capacity Development Funding Scheme of the HKSAR. Swire Properties commissioned the show for 2 more consecutive years (2018-2019). The Hong Kong Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD) then invited her to write and perform programmes for the International Arts Carnival for 3 consecutive years. Producing the touring show- ‘The Marvelous Box’ (2019), ‘Giggling is the Best Medicine’ (2020) along with 2 other artists, and ‘Open Wide so I Can Look Inside’ (2021) to sell out shows at Kwai Tsing Theatre Black Box Studio.