YORK High School is playing host to the Royal Shakespeare Company for a third time today (November 29), when a 90-minute production of The Comedy Of errors will be staged for seven to 13 year olds.

This year, York High students will be performing in the opening sequence of the 7pm public performance, for which tickets are on sale at £6. Earlier in the day, at 11.45am, the RSC will present a performance for the school.

Today's visit is part of the RSC's continuing series of First Encounters With Shakespeare, touring nationwide from October to December with edited versions of the plays performed using Shakespeare’s original language, as the RSC has been doing for more than a decade.

As part of its commitment to provide young people with a "fantastic first experience of Shakespeare", the RSC has linked up with seven regional partner theatres to tour The Comedy Of Errors to schools and theatres this autumn, York Theatre Royal being one of the seven.

The RSC will switch from York High to the Theatre Royal for performances for schools at 1pm on Thursday and 10.30am on Friday and public shows at 7.30pm on both nights.

Directed and edited by Alex Thorpe in his RSC directorial debut, and aimed primarily at seven to 13 year olds, the RSC production will feature a gender-split cast of eight actors and actor-musicians. I

As mentioned earlier, a key feature of a First Encounters productions is that they could not take place without the involvement and engagement of the community the RSC is visiting. Hence, tomorrow evening, up to 20 children from York High will be performing an edited version of one of the play’s opening speeches, wherein Egeon explains how he became separated from his wife and one of his twin sons. Schools on the autumn tour also are invited to decorate parts of the set ahead of the RSC’s visit to create a sense of their home city.

Thorpe says: The RSC’s First Encounters productions have a long and exciting history of not only giving young audiences their early experiences of Shakespeare and theatre, but also actively involving them in the making of it.

"This year I am delighted to be leading a company who will take things a step further. This production is being built around its audience and the places we visit. Extending and building on the play’s themes, the professional company of actors and actor-musicians will be joined by ensembles of young performers from across the UK to help tell some of the story. Ephesus, the play’s market-town setting, will feel uncannily familiar as local communities work together to complete the stage’s design.

"My relationship with the RSC’s education department has seen me collaborate with and learn from teachers, artists and school groups right across the country. Being brought up in the north west market town of Kendal, the opportunity to take Shakespeare’s farcical comedy to locations that feel like home is the perfect way to share one of Shakespeare’s earliest works."

Jacqui O’Hanlon, the RSC's director of education, adds: "At the heart of our First Encounters with The Comedy Of Errors tour are the regional theatres and schools we are privileged to work in collaboration with to create it.

"Many of us have our first encounter with Shakespeare at school, an experience which can define our attitude to live theatre and to Shakespeare for all of our lives. Together with our partner theatres, we bring the excitement and wonder of Shakespeare’s work right into the heart of schools and local communities.

"We know that audiences for this work include significant numbers who are new to Shakespeare and to theatre. The fact that 20 per cent of returning audiences have had their first encounter with theatre through these tours is testament to the profound impact that partnerships between schools and theatres can have on local communities; partnerships forged out of a shared vision for education in which access to the arts plays a central part."

In Thorpe's cast are Hasan Dixon, as Antipholus of Ephesus; Jessica Dyas, as Angleo/Egeon; Aruhan Galieva, as Luciana/Duke Solinus; Lewis Griffin, as Dromio of Ephesus; Rhiannon Handy, as Adriana; Paula James, as Merchant/Emilia/Officer; Nicholas Karimi, as Antipholus of Syracuse, and Thomas Pickles, as Dromio of Syracuse.

Thorpe is joined in the creative team by Amelia Hankin, designer; Eamonn O’Dwyer, music; Simon Pittman, movement; Lisa Connell, fight choreography, and Edie Edmundson, puppetry director.

Tickets are on sale on 01904 623568 or at yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.