Welcome, readers! This week in Shakespeare education news, we cover the various ways in which practitioners and teachers are trying to reach out to their students and kindle an interest in Shakespeare beyond the static page …
Schools and theatre companies are exploring new ways to get students involved and interested in Shakespeare’s works. Petchey Academy in Hackney, London, recently transformed classrooms into an island as part of a project focusing on The Tempest. The UK’s Punchdrunk theatre company collaborated with the school to help create the interactive, spacial experience for students. As a company, Punchdrunk specializes in such projects and specifically labels their work as “immersive” to “distinguish it from the familiar conventions of site specific and traditional promenade theatre.”
“The company aims to deliver workshops/talks based on the needs of each particular school or group. The company would consult with you to deliver an appropriate session that directly engages with the area of exploration and learning.
Recent workshops have focused on using space as a starting point for narrative and devising, non-verbal storytelling, audience interaction, using transforming space, all of which are central to punchdrunk’s creative process.” – from the company website
Students were able to explore classroom “forests” of Prospero’s island and wander the roof of the building.
Elsewhere, in Melbourne, Australia, Tim Crouch’s one-man show, I, Malvolio, takes Shakespeare’s steward from Twelfth Night and transposes him into a “metaphysical clown show.” Crouch’s production invites audience members to take on the role of Toby Belch and attack Malvolio (both verbally and physically).
“A charged, hilarious and sometimes unsettling rant from a man adrift in front of a cruel audience. Part abject clown, part theatre-hating disciplinarian, Malvolio asks his audience to explore the pleasure we take in other people’s suffering. This is a show for anyone who has ever been told off, called a name or has fallen in love with the wrong person.”
The unusual performance has, according to Crouch, uncovered a lot of interest from younger viewers. Teenagers, he tells the Herald Sun, are naturally wary of him and generally recalcitrant as audience members. They create the perfect foil to his interactive Malvolio.
Winter Workshops on the Way
Silvia Baltodano, the founder and artistic director of Luciérnaga Producciones (Firefly Productions) in San Jose, Costa Rica, will host a “Shake-Scenes” workshop lead by Christopher Weddell. The three-day program is designed to help English-speaking actors of all skill levels perform classic monologues. Native Costa Ricans are encouraged to participate and grapple with the original English language of the scenes. Baltodano believes that working with Shakespeare requires engaged performance:
“Shake-Scenes” will take place in February.
Actress and educator Julia Levo will host her own intensive eight-week acting program designed for high school students and with a focus on Macbeth. The event will take place at New Pond Farm in Redding, Connecticut, from January 12 through March 9. Levo hopes to develop students’ acting technique, textual analysis, and vocals. Invited audience members will have a chance to view a final performance of key scenes.
Have you seen any of the shows or participated in any of the workshops mentioned here this week? Let us know what you think. Leave us a comment and start the conversation!