Throughout public school English classrooms, teachers strive to bring Shakespeare to life for their students by including some kind of live performance, either in film clips, classroom scenes, or field trips to local theaters. When taking classes or entire grade levels out to the theater is an impossibility, touring troupes make present theater possible for thousands of students across the country. They often arrive with fresh perspectives, vibrant recitations, provocative spectacle, and engaging humor for an otherwise stagnant and page-bound unit of study.
“O, What Learning …” frequently includes the many ways in which resident companies and touring troupes bring live theater to school groups around the globe. This week in Shakespeare education news, two theater groups celebrate their seventeenth year bringing Shakespeare performance to young students …
The Utah Shakespeare Festival’s Shakespeare-in-the-Schools touring production of Macbeth will visit more than twenty-five thousand students from January to April. The tour will cross five western states over fourteen weeks and perform for community centers, correctional facilities, and one hundred and twenty schools. The abridged production, which runs for seventy-five minutes, also includes post-show discussions with the seven company actors and workshops in character development, combat, technical theatre, and text.
Various designers behind this year’s show have chosen to explore the contrasts of black versus white and light versus dark.
The National Endowment for the Arts’ “Shakespeare for a New Generation” program provided part of the financial support for the Festival’s tour.
For local student groups in the Southland area, however, the Theatrical Education Group offers “Shakespearience,” a production especially designed to work alongside various classroom curricula. The Group performs in Glendale, California, and expects the production to reach over five thousand students this year.
From the company website:
Performed at the historic Alex Theatre in Glendale, this amazing field trip features exciting performances of the Bard’s finest works! Essentially a “play within a play”, the production follows the adventures of an acting troupe as they stage a series of scenes from Shakespeare’s most famous plays.
The play-within-a-play narrative features key scenes from Shakespeare’s works most popular in public schools: Hamlet, Macbeth, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Romeo and Juliet, and The Taming of the Shrew. Director and actor Justin Eick created the show to “directly correlate to the plays” required for seventh through twelfth graders.