This workshop, for junior and senior high school English and Drama teachers, will help you instill an excitement in your students to study Shakespeare.
We all know that the Bard was meant to be performed rather than read, thus lies the challenge of studying Shakespeare in the classroom. As much as there will be academic material to educate the students, the focus of this workshop is to help the teachers enjoy the process of sharing the extraordinary literary, dramatic, and theatrical world of Shakespeare.
In two very different situations working with a junior company of high school students and the other in a maxim security correctional facility directing inmates to perform Shakespeare, when the students gained a personal understanding of what they were saying, a visual shift in the emotional sense of self was noticeable. This is the most important direction of this workshop. Empowering the individual to a greater sense of self-worth, self-confidence, and self-reliance through the use of the voice.
This workshop, patterned after the classwork of the School of Outrageous Shakespeare! (SOS), is an emotional and body gymnastics bootcamp. We call it SOS because if you know how to work with the Bard’s material you feel empowered so you can take on the world and it feels outrageous!
1. The first dynamic that we will cover in detail is how to work more consciously with the voice by knowing how to use your body to that end. Notice how unaware most people (including perhaps you and your students) of how you are using your body to speak. We will explore a rather unconventional exploration of the voice with numerous body exercises, and the simpler use of tongue twisters. These exercises can be part of how you introduce Shakespeare in the classroom and, if done with enthusiasm this starts to build a curiosity and a sense of play, dare we say joy!
2. In general our cultural is controlled by the mind and therefore the head directs what we physically do, and the body follows the head’s lead somewhat consciously. There is a more profound dynamic at work here and it has to do with being present, rather than attempting to get to the future and not be aware of the present. This is the second most important dynamic that we will be working with, to be much more conscious of being aware of what are body is feeling and doing right now.
3. There is a contingency of scholars that passionately delve into just the text as literary genius. We applaud them for the purpose of giving our youth an electrifying experience of the English language using Shakespeare’s text as a vehicle to strengthen our young students’ confidence in showing and sharing their humanity through their personal voice.
We will explore options on how to present the current curriculum of Shakespeare, such not necessarily having a class read one play fully through but to read two or three plays with choice scenes to give a flavor of the action and overview of the play’s storyline. Making strategic choices of scenes from the chosen play(s) to work on will begin to lighten the mental load of intellectual understanding. Scenes with active conversation will be the easiest to introduce.
In our workshop I create a classroom situation with you the teachers now as the students. We would read aloud the chosen scene, discuss what was going on and then I would have you speak the scene in your own language as dialogue (paraphrasing). And then return to the text and see what is available to add to the scene with Shakespeare’s words.
Lastly, through a day long workshop starting at 9am going to 12 noon, breaking for lunch and returning from 1 to 4pm will be an enlivening experience that I trust will be invigorating and inspiring for you to confidently introduce Shakespeare in your classes. By showing the steps taken to learn to speak out, speak up, and speak from the heart, will give a sense of liberty and freedom of being you -- this will be a meaningful gift that can be given to your students.
And in closing I will say also I am available to be there to give support to this work. Life’s too short not to grab all the gusto to being alive and feels its power of being you!
Performing Shakespeare is a physical, verbal, emotional, and intellectual gymnastic workout for the use of the whole vocal instrument, which includes, the skull, facial muscles, tongue, lungs, and torso. Perhaps this has been long winded, but I want to bring home that this is not a workshop in just understanding the language, but a whole-body engagement working with the English language and the weightlifting apparatus to succeed to this end is Shakespeare’s text. Enough said, let’s get started!
For more info, call Gary at 802-282-2581, or email him at GaryMeitrott@vermontel.net.