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O, What Learning Is! | William Shakespeare’s Star Wars, hard times in Germantown, and startin’ ’em young… | Education News for the Week of July 1, 2013

By July 2, 2013 No Comments

Happy summer, loyal readers!  While we can’t quite “make a July’s day as short as December,” as young Florizel did for Polixines, we’ll do what we can to provide you a bit of entertaining and informative Shakespeare-in-education news from the past few weeks.  Keep sending in those tips and links to the education work you are doing….


The first Star Wars film retold as an imagined Shakespeare play A comic illustration in The Independent to accompany an article on Doescher’s new book













Your heart’s desires – and The Force – be with you!

For all those kids out there who are Star Wars nerds but have no idea who really got the idea of a trilogy going… help is on the way!  William Shakespeare’s Star Wars, by Ian Doescher, retells the Star Wars saga as if it were a Shakespeare play, complete with stage directions and line numbers.  Even R2D2 beeps in iambic pentameter, according to some of the articles we’ve gathered for you here, here, and here.  (One astute critic has already complained that the robots should be granted the freedom of verse, to make them truly Shakespearean.)

In the article from the Times Educational Supplement (TES), Doescher speaks about how he believes his new book could help open up Shakespeare for verse-averse young students:

“Shakespeare already has a reputation for being rather elite and stodgy,” Mr Doescher said. “I think young people … see unfamiliar words like ‘fardels’ and ‘codpiece’ and ‘sithence’ and they just assume they won’t be able to do it…. I hope my book might be a gateway for students into Shakespeare. They already know the storyline, so they won’t have trouble following what is happening, and reading the book will expose them to iambic pentameter, some of Shakespeare’s basic vocabulary and a handful of literary devices.”

In an interview in a Portland, Oregon, newspaper, Doescher says that a visit to the Ashland Shakespeare Festival helped inspire the idea.


A moment from “The Magical Mind of Billy Shakespeare”













A magical mystery tour

A few weeks ago young people in Bloomington, Indiana, were invited to enter “The Magical Mind of Billy Shakespeare” via a performance by actors from the Illinois Shakespeare Festival.  The free show, held June 8 at the Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts, is an annual tradition of the festival and features interactive moments where young children can join the actors onstage.  “Kindergartners love it, because every word to them is new,” said festival artistic director Kevin Rich, author of the show.  “They aren’t afraid of words they don’t understand.”


O, What Learning Is! | William Shakespeare's Star Wars, hard times in Germantown, and startin' 'em young... | Education News for the Week of July 1, 2013 shakespeare news The Shakespeare Standard shakespeare plays list play shakespeare This week

Prospero will have to send the City of Germantown logo “deeper than did ever plummet sound” to banish it from next year’s sponsor’s list for the Tennessee Shakespeare Co. after the city’s funding cuts


Put money in thy purse….

Funding for education programs at the Tennessee Shakespeare Co. in Germantown, Tenn., took a major hit recently when the city’s leaders, citing hard economic times, voted to cut arts education funding to the company.  The loss is a big one, since the city had been awarding $70,000 per year for the past two years.  A week later that tough blow was softened just a bit with some good news when it was announced that the company had been awarded a $25,000 grant by Arts Midwest in connection with the National Endowment for the Arts.


O, What Learning Is! | William Shakespeare's Star Wars, hard times in Germantown, and startin' 'em young... | Education News for the Week of July 1, 2013 shakespeare news The Shakespeare Standard shakespeare plays list play shakespeare This week

Charles Hunt’s Children acting out the play-within-the-play from Hamlet in 1863.


The Globe Young Players:  “Little eyases” sans the kid-nabbing

Though we imagine that today many children would prefer joining an acting troupe to being in school all day, some young players in Shakespeare’s time did not choose to run off with the circus, so to speak – rather the circus ran off with them.  As Dominic Dromgoole prepares to start an all-children’s troupe for the Globe’s new Blackfriars, he mused recently in a newspaper article about how some young people in Elizabethan England — primarily poor children whose parents had no resources with which to protect them — were “impressed” into service in the children’s companies.  For his part, Dromgoole is prepared to accept voluntary applications to his new group….


We welcome your feedback on any of the stories you’ve read here.  Be sure to leave us your comments and start a conversation!

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