Is’t possible?! The spring semester is already over? School is almost out?
“Sumer Is Icumen In,” as the old song goes… but not quite yet. The darling buds of May will be with us a bit longer. So here are some of the Shakespeare-in-education nuggets you might have missed in your web-hopping over the past week.
Shakespeare sampler plate goes over big in Key West
If you are a Shakespearean troupe touring the schools, there is a certain wisdom in the approach of performing a medley of scenes from a variety of plays rather than focusing just on one play; you are offering a bit of something for everyone, and sidestepping the sometimes oppressive need to attempt to tell a full story in just 30-40 minutes. The medley approach has been successful for the Fringe Theater in Key West and its Shakespeare in School project. This article from the Florida Keys News describes the company’s current show, which includes moments from Julius Caesar, Twelfth Night, and Taming of the Shrew. One section of the article describes some written student feedback on the workshop/performance visit:
“‘I didn’t know Shakespeare wrote comedy,’ one student wrote.
“‘I didn’t know he wrote in our language,’ quoth another.
“‘This is actually fun,’ yet another wrote. ‘Watching it come to life is a totally different experience from just reading it.'”
Bigger than the Beatles?
If you occasionally need some backup in your attempts to persuade students that Shakespeare is still alive and well in our culture, here’s a solid think piece on the topic from the PopMatters website. The author, Daniel Rasmus (a poet/writer in the Pacific Northwest), looks at the Kill Shakespeare comic and the cheesy but fun Action Bill animated LEGO short (in which a LEGO William Shatner goes back in time to attempt to kill Shakespeare, declaring to Bill: “Blast your use of iambic pentameter…. I’ll never be a real… actor!”).
Summer camp for Shakespeare teachers!
It’s the dream summer camp for high school English teachers who teach Shakespeare — the Folger Shakespeare Library’s Teaching Shakespeare Institute, coming up in July. Here is a lovely piece on one of the teachers who applied and was accepted for this summer’s monthlong session in D.C., Ann Petersen of Pinecrest High School in Southern Pines, North Carolina. The article includes a link to a video of Petersen teaching her Shakespeare class.
A quote from the article:
“Petersen said most of her students at Pinecrest ‘get’ Shakespeare, regardless of their academic talents.
“‘They have to learn to let the language wash over them,’ she said. ‘I have them act out scenes at various sites on campus, and we watch movies of Shakespeare’s plays. This gives them the opportunity to see his works as they were intended, in a visual medium, as opposed to sitting and reading the plays by oneself….'”
Finding the teacher you need
A writer recalls a great lesson he received in the value of literature — from an economics professor. It would ruin the fun of the story from the Louisville Courier-Journal to give away too much, but here’s a wonderful summary of what was passed on to Miles Corwin in that classroom decades ago: “Economic theory is important… but reading authors such as Tolstoy, Chekhov, Dickens, Shakespeare and Wordsworth has a different and equally important kind of worth, shaping students’ values and deepening their understanding of life. The writing, critical thinking skills and appreciation for creativity that students learn as liberal arts majors… will enrich their lives and also serve them well in a variety of careers, including business.”
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