A FREE two-day intensive workshop run by leading industry professionals on the performance and delivery of classical texts with a central focus on Shakespeare and his plays

Organised by the Society for Theatre Research and supported by The National Theatre, The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, and Spotlight

In 2016, to celebrate the 400th anniversary since the death of Shakespeare, 14 past Poel Participants came together to each perform their favourite Shakespeare sonnet.  Released on the day and for the following 14 days on social media, the Poel sonnets celebrate Shakespeare's work. Please visit our YouTube channel to see all 14 sonnets. 


Images by Oscar Blustin photography. 

Who can apply...

This event requires all participants to have been working professionally for 2 years or more.

How much is it and how can I apply...

The Poel Event is FREE and is provided by the Society for Theatre Research. 12 places are on offer each year to help actors continue their professional training. STR prides itself on promoting the value and importance of classical training and the continuing development of Shakespearean theatre. Participants are selected via written application and invited audition.  See below to download an application form.

Connect with us

Though the application process for the 2017 London Poel Event is now closed you can still connect with us. "How?" we hear you cry:

You can like our page on Facebook

You can follow and tweet us

You can sign up for our newsletter at the bottom of the page

The Poel Event 2017

Workshop dates - 4th and 17th January 2017

Venue(s) - As always the brilliant Central School of Speech and Drama (Day 1) and the wonderful National Theatre (Day 2).

We had fantastic workshop leaders share their wisdom with us at this year's event. Gracing us with their expertise were:

Erica Whyman - Deputy Artistic Director of the RSC

Jeannette Nelson (Head of Voice at The National Theatre)

Barbara Houseman (Voice Coach: Donmar, Kenneth Branagh Company)

Daron Oram (Senior Voice Lecturer CSSD)

Emily Jenkins (Text practitioner– Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre)

Sam Yates (Theatre and Film director)

Paapa Essiedu (Actor - Edmund in King Lear and title role in Hamlet at the RSC)

Ben Crystal (Actor; founder of Passion in Practice)

William Poel

This event is organised by the Society for Theatre Research in memory of actor and producer William Poel 1852-1934.

A pioneer who campaigned against the 19th century approach to Shakespeare and early English drama insisting instead on a return to the actor and director’s focus on clarity of verse and an Elizabethan simplicity of staging. For more information about William Poel and the history of the Poel event please click here

Who runs the workshops...

Jeannette Nelson

Head of Voice, National Theatre

Barbara Houseman

Voice specialist credits include work at the RSC, Donmar, Old Vic and Royal

Emily Jenkins

Head of the Poel Event, Shakespeare Specialist

Past leaders include...

Ian McKellen

Timothy West

Greg Doran

Henry Goodman

Prunella Scales CBE

Jeremy Herrin

Cicely Berry

Ben Crystal

Blanche McIntyre

Christopher Luscombe

Erica Whyman

Paapa Essiedu

Sam Yates

"These unique workshops inspire and develop a practical love of Shakespeare. I wish every young actor could attend them."

Ian McKellen (actor)

"William Poel insisted that Shakespearean production should be driven and fashioned simply by the text. The purpose of the Poel Event each year is to instil in our students a confidence and ease with Shakespearean verse and language, and provides them with an exciting opportunity to meet and work closely, in intimate groups, with leading professional actors and directors."

Timothy West CBE (actor)

"You only have to look at the list of names associated with the Poel Event to see what a valuable function it performs – connecting people with the very best our profession has to offer."

Tim Pigott-Smith (actor)

"The Poel Event was one of the most satisfying and confidence affirming experiences I have had as an actor! The atmosphere was warm and supportive, making the day that little bit more special! To finish the day, with the opportunity to work on a classical piece of your choice, on the Olivier Stage, under the guidance of Jeanette Nelson, was a phenomenal! I'd advise all actors to apply for this amazing and FREE opportunity!"

Oliver Ashworth Poel participant 2011

"The POEL was brilliant. To have the opportunity to work with leading practitioners was an invaluable experience - I would thoroughly recommend it to anyone who loves working on classics."

Rowena Lennon - Poel participant 2013

"Poel was the best 2 days for me so far this year. There was noticeable difference in energy & performance after the measured guidance from all the top practitioners in the industry from voice to movement to textual understanding. It was so wonderful to flex the "classical" muscle."

Gabby Wong - Poel participant 2014

Want to apply?

The application period is now closed!

Please don't let that stop you from signing up for our mailing list (right). We promise not to bombard your inbox and you will be informed when the application process opens for the next event (among with other lovely tidbits of Poel Event-based information). We have exciting things in the pipeline so make sure you are one of the first to know through our newsletters.

Join our Mailing List: