“Good, now, save me a piece of the cake!” shouts one servant to another amidst the hustle and bustle and cleaning-up before the party scene in Romeo and Juliet… Here’s hoping that you had a lovely Shakespeare’s birthday celebration, and that you have a piece of Shakespeare Birthday Cake tucked away somewhere in the frig or freezer — just the perfect thing to nibble on as you peruse this week’s amble through some of the Shakespeare-in-education news to be found on the net recently…
Shakespeare Our Schoolteacher
A column in the Telegraph of London looks at a successful Shakespeare performance project that took place at Stebon Primary School as part of the Shakespeare Schools Festival in the UK. Head teacher Jeremy Iver reports “astronomical progress” in students’ learning and self-confidence. The school is located in a low-income area of London and many speak English as a second language (or “English as an additional language,” as the edu-speak terminology in the UK puts it). Shakespeare Schools Festival co-founder Penelope Middelboe was interviewed for the article and has some wonderful quotes, including:
“Shakespeare can be really daunting and difficult for children to access, but what we have found is that, giving pupils a point of access, discovering the characters for themselves, can be a different way of getting into the arts. Once children realise that Shakespeare isn’t scary they feel clever and empowered.”
Also in the Telegraph recently, along the same lines, is this excellent piece by Ben Crystal, arguing for just this kind of early and active exposure to Shakespeare: “Whether it be a preparatory class, or even a single session,” Crystal writes, “before we ask our schoolchildren to take his works seriously – we should teach them to play with Shakespeare.”The 2003 Cincinnati Shakespeare Company production of “Pericles,” which helped the group see how audiences — including young students — would benefit from experiencing the lesser-known plays.
Lost and found with ‘Pericles’
The producing artistic director of the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company (CSC), Brian Isaac Phillips, tells the story at the Cincinnati.com news site of how his company found its way by taking a chance on “Pericles” 10 years ago. The artistic success of that production spurred the company to set the goal of eventually “completing the canon” — and Phillips argues that this mission has brought benefits to the company’s audiences and to the students who see productions as part of CSC’s educational efforts.
Sonnet Man to the rescue!
There are wonderful stories out there of the rich possibilities that come for young students from exploring Shakespeare’s language with a hip-hop sensibility and rhythm. This article tells the story of a school performance by The Sonnet Man, aka Devon Glover. Though the article has a few somewhat baffling typos (the writer quotes Glover as saying that Shakespeare had a nickname… “The Barb” — which is a new one on me), it has some interesting details on how Glover began his educational outreach work. Here is a link to Sonnet Man’s website for more information on Glover’s project.
Caliban takes Prospero’s staff in the final moments of last year’s Hobart Shakespeareans performance of “The Tempest” in tiny Room 56 at Hobart Elementary in Los Angeles
Hottest ticket in LA
The legendary Hobart Shakespeareans, led by equally legendary 5th grade teacher Rafe Esquith, open their monthlong run of Cymbeline this week at Hobart Elementary in the Koreatown area of Los Angeles. The 16-performance run has been sold out for a month. Check back on the site later during the summer for photos and video clips, and put it on your calendar for next February: Try to get tickets for next year’s Hobart show! In the meantime, here is a 2013 piece from Edutopia on Esquith and his amazing program.
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