Hello all and welcome to another edition of O What Learning Is?, the place for all things Shakespeare and Education.  With many school years winding down news on the education front is a little slow. Here, though, is what I have for the week. Enjoy!

Fuse Theatre exploring Shakespeare through a “colored” lens:

With all the debate this year what with the authorship issue taking center stage, many have forgotten that there is another debate which has been more subtly raging below the authorship debate. What is this debate, you ask? Well, this debate has to deal with Shakespeare and his 154 sonnets. Many people from scholars to actors to theatre companies have been debating for years what exactly these sonnets are about: death, love, a love affair with a man, or all of the above. Well, one more theatre company is joining the debate.

Fuse Theatre Ensemble is currently performing all 154 sonnets in show called Sonnetscape. Sonnetscape explores the argument that the sonnets were “the first great collection of literature detailing the specifics of homosexual love and its layered social complexities” by exploring the little known theme of homosexuality that is seen throughout all 154 of Shakespeare’s sonnets.

Shakespeare on the Sound Gets its Anti-Bully on:

The problem of bullying in schools is a problem that has been gaining a lot national  attention over the last few years. Now one Shakespeare company is using Shakespeare to teach kids about bullying and how it has evolved through the ages.

Shakespeare on the Sound has started a program aptly  named Speaking Daggers. Partnering with Carver Community Center, and sponsored by GE Capital, the program shows the evolution of bullying through the centuries and how it reached its modern incarnation: cyber-bullying.

According to Emily Bryant, the education director of Shakespeare on the Sound, when most people think of Shakespeare on the Sound they tend to think of just plays in park. Yet Shakespeare on the Sound has expanded into summer programs, and the anti-bullying campaign and program are just an extension of that.

The main goal of Speaking Daggers is simple. During the Speaking Daggers  visits, she and the actors are on the alert for what she calls “the Shakespeare glaze,” or the checking out of audience members to the point where their eyes glaze over.

“We ask the performers to freeze in order to do a gut check with the audience before we proceed,” said Bryant. “We want to make sure the kids know what’s going on before the actors proceed. We want to make Shakespeare both exciting and relatable.”

The Speaking Daggers program wants to make Shakespeare accessible to middle schoolers by relating it back to the topic of bullying, and more specifically, cyber-bullying. To that end the actors involved take volunteers from the audience and have them re-enact  three scenes—one from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, one from Romeo and Juliet, and a third from Merchant of Venice. One can only hope this a sign of things to come when it comes to the issue of bullying.

Shakespeare Gets Interactive

This past week Shakespeare got a boost in the interaction department thanks to educator and performer. Ron Scot Fry with his interactive lecture To Be! Shakespeare Here and Now. To Be! Shakespeare Here and Now is a lecture that focuses on the works of Shakespeare. It also includes an open ended Q and A with Fry.

“It isn’t just a spectator’s event,” Fry said. “There are plenty of opportunities for audience members to get involved in speeches and acting. Another goal of the program is to help people get over fears they might have about the difficulty of the works and simply enjoy it.”

So far, To Be! Shakespeare Here and Now has been performed for roughly 65,000 people.

Other Bits of Interest:


Well, that’s all for this week. What did you think about  the Fuse Ensemble Group looking at Shakespeare sonnets through rainbow colored glasses, as it were? What about the Speaking Daggers program by Shakespeare on The Sound? Or how about the interactive lecture by Ron Scot Fry ? We want to know so you can comment down below or you can like us on Facebook and follow us on  Twitter. We love to hear from you, so drop us a line!

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