Our recent webinar on Macbeth drew an overwhelming response from teachers across the country and around the world. Within two and-a-half hours of posting the notice for it, all 150 available seats had been filled. Another 245 teachers tried to register for the session. Unfortunately, on the night of the webinar, only 73 of the 150 who signed up actually tuned in. We’re not exactly sure why. Perhaps because it was free, people thought it was okay to sign up, just in case. At any rate, we felt badly because many more teachers could have attended. Maybe we should charge a small, non-refundable fee, to secure a place. That way, only those who are really going to attend will register. What do you think?
If you missed the webinar, we do have a version of it available. We’re going to provide a better edited version soon, but if you can’t wait, here’s the information we sent out just the other day:
Thank you to everyone who registered for our Macbeth Set Free Webinar on December 7th! Below is a link for the archived webinar. Please note that the informational portion of the webinar begins at timestamp 23:30 – everything before that is mic-check, and video and audio troubleshooting by our webinar hosts. Once the recording begins, please click the pause button at the bottom of the screen, drag the time stamp to 23:30, wait for it to cue up, then press play. It may take a minute or two to fast-forward.
Please click the link below, or copy and paste it into your browser; then login as a Guest using your email address and your full name. Java is required to view this recording. At the end of the presentations there is a link to displayed to a Survey for participants. Please do fill this survey out! This will tell us what you want to see from us, and how we can better support you as an educator!
This will also be available through our BardNotes newsletter in January. If you’re not already registered for BardNotes, please visit www.folger.edu/enews.
We plan to offer more webinars on the plays. Which ones would you like to see offered?
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Folger Education, with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities, will offer a free webinar on December 7th. Don’t rush out to sign up because within three hours of posting a notice to our BardNotes subscribers all 150 available seats were filled. We were excited by the response and surprised by the speed by which the session filled. What we think this means it that there is a real need for more opportunities for teachers to have access to professional development via the internet. Are we correct in drawing this conclusion? If we are, then what content would you like to see Folger Education develop for future webinars?
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The Hot News among English Language Arts teachers this summer (it’s been a slow news cycle) was the initial publication of the Common Core State Standards. Originally announced on June 1, 2009, the initiative’s stated purpose was to provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn, so teachers and parents know what they need to do to help them.
And for those of us who teach Shakespeare, the really good news was the inclusion of a Shakespeare play–specifically Macbeth–as a requirement in the Grade 9-10 Standards.
Here’s what the commission said about the standards:
These standards define the knowledge and skills students should have within their K-12 education careers so that they will graduate high school able to succeed in entry-level, credit-bearing academic college courses and in workforce training programs. The standards:
- Are aligned with college and work expectations;
- Are clear, understandable and consistent;
- Include rigorous content and application of knowledge through high-order skills;
- Build upon strengths and lessons of current state standards;
- Are informed by other top performing countries, so that all students are prepared to succeed in our global economy and society; and
- Are evidence-based
As of July 9, 23 states had decided to replace their standards with the Common Core and by the end of the year, 41 states are expected to have adopted them.
Only Texas and Alaska did not participate in the initiative and are not expected to adopt them.
But Shakespeare was one of the few authors mentioned by name, and the Folger has lots of fabulous lesson plans on Macbeth and a wonderful DVD of the production we produced on our stage.
So what do you think about these standards? Will your state be adopting them? Will it finally convince some reluctant administrators that Shakespeare should be taught in high school? You tell us.
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Once again, there seem to be several new Shakespeare films in the pipeline. Since these films are not generally Blockbusters, their fate is often in limbo. And some of these will appear on television rather than in theaters.
But here are a few that we’ve heard of, in no particular order.
- Michael Radford, who previously directed Al Pacino in The Merchant of Venice (2004), has cast Pacino in the title role in King Lear. It’s currently in pre-production.
- With an all-star cast, Coriolanus is set to start shooting next week in Serbia. Ralph Fiennes will direct and play the title role along with cast members Brian Cox, Vanessa Redgrave, Gerard Butler, and John Kani.
- Already in post-production and awaiting the fallout from the Miramax mess is Julie Taymor’s The Tempest. It stars Helen Mirren as Prospera, and features Alan Cumming as Sebastian, Felicity Jones as Miranda, , Chris Cooper as Antonio, Djimon Hounsou as Caliban, and Alfred Molina as Stephano. A release date has not been set.
- Those who missed Patrick Stewart’s Macbeth when it toured the world in 2008 will get a chance when Rupert Goold’s film is released. It looks like it will air onPBS in the U.S.
- And speaking of Patrick Stewart, he plays Claudius opposite David Tennant in the highly acclaimed production of Hamlet. The DVD is set to go on sale on May 4, 2010.
Please add your comments about any of these.
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It’s been less than three months since the Folger Macbeth DVD became available, both at the NCTE Conference and through our shop and on Amazon.com. In adition to the 2-hour play, the DVD also boasts eight Special Features. They are:
- Capturing Macbeth film trailer takes you inside the critically-acclaimed production.
- Directing Macbeth demonstrates the process that Aaron Posner and Teller go through to mount the stage production.
- Mr. and Mrs. Macbeth takes a close look at what motivates these complex characters by interviews with the actors and directors.
- Acting Macbeth gives fascinating insight into how actors prepare for their roles.
- Comedy in Macbeth illustrates how the tension in the play is often relieved by humor, with a special focus on the role of the Porter.
- Blood Will Have Blood gives a behind-the-scenes look at how stage blood is used to create a “horror show” atmosphere in Macbeth.
- The Weird Sisters explores the directors’ unique choices in how to portray these extraordinary—and controversial—characters
- Stage Combat explains how the fight director coaches the actors to create a unique fighting style and believable battle sequences.
You can even read the transcripts of each of these on our site.
So we’d like to learn what you early adopters of the DVD think about it and more importantly, we’d like you to tell us how you might use the play and the Special Features in teaching Macbeth. Try to be as specific as you can. We’re really curious how you might teach the play if every one of your students had the book WITH the DVD.
Thanks in advance for your comments.
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With the recent release of the Folger’s Macbeth DVD Edition, I’m reminded of the wealth of inspiration to be taken from sources outside the play itself. Building a character as complex as Lady Macbeth who “is just known as the epitome of evil, this battleaxe of a possessed demonic dark force woman” (described by Kate Turner Walker in the featurette “Mr. and Mrs. Macbeth”) can be daunting when trying to approach the character in a different way.
Shakespeare’s plays, even the historical ones, are fiction inspired by other sources. It stands to reason that authors have used his plays as jumping-off points where they are given fresh perspective. The authors explore (and sometimes answer) questions about the characters’ pasts and involvement in the plot.
In the play, Lady Macbeth says: “I have given suck, and know How tender ’tis to love the babe that milks me” (Macbeth, I.vii). What happened to Lady Macbeth’s child? Novels such as the terrifically tense The Third Witch by Rebecca Reisert have an answer: the daughter of Lady Macbeth (by her first husband) is raised by wise women (yes those wise women) who live in Birnham Wood before becoming involved in the plot of Macbeth for her own vengeful purposes.
Another interesting aspect of the play is choice and fate. The tangling of prophecy and murderous choice that unravels after Macbeth’s first bloody deed is examined in novels such as Enter Three Witches by Caroline Cooney, Lady Macbeth’s Daughter by Lisa Klein, and Banquo’s Son by Tania Roxborogh which explore how characters not in the main plot are still affected by its events.
Meanwhile, Lady Macbeth by Susan Fraser King takes the story back to its historical roots, in a Scotland run by the fiercest warriors, a king whose crown was secured by prowess in battle – not an underhanded stab in the night, and examines what life was like for a warrior’s wife.
Part of understanding the plays is trying to understand the characters within them; stepping into their shoes and imagining the life they lead. These novels help kick-start imagination, and have a reader (or an actor) asking “What If?” Where do you get inspiration?
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Imagine everything you needed to get started teaching Shakespeare all in one place. This summer, Folger Education developed exactly that in our newest teaching resource, the Shakespeare Set Free: Doing Shakespeare Right toolkit.
We unveiled the toolkit at last month’s NCTE Convention in Philadelphia. Teachers were incredibly excited and are already seeing success in the classrooms. One teacher from California even reported:
“I LOVE the toolkit. The pictures on the flash drive really generated excitement among my students. We looked at the pictures, and I told them ‘tantalizing tidbits’ about the plays the picture represented. By the time I started the lesson plan for A Midsummer Night’s Dream in Shakespeare Set Free, they were totally engaged.”
So what’s in the kit? Essentially, all the resources you need to get your students started on an enjoyable and enriching experience with Shakespeare. Shakespeare isn’t about just reading the plays; its about getting students up on their feet and actively engaging with the text.
The kit contains:
- The Shakespeare Set Free curriculum
- A getting started guide
- A DVD of Folger Theatre’s smash stage production of Macbeth, with special features designed for classroom use
- Printable classroom activities
- 40 laminated cards with lines from the plays for our two-line scene exercises. Teachers have been asking for cards like these since we began offering our performance-based teaching workshops – they’re a great introductory exercise for students just getting started with Shakespeare.
- and more!
Perhaps the most exciting feature of the toolkit is the flash drive with both edited and unedited scenes for classrom use, copies of our podcasts and videos from our YouTube site, and many other terrific teaching tools. The toolkit is available for purchase online for $75.
We welcome hearing your feedback on your experiences using the toolkit. How have you used the materials to engage and challenge your students?
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The Folger Education team is excited about our participation at the NCTE Conference in Philadelphia from 11/19-24. We hope we get to meet as many of you as possible.
Here are the highlights:
- Our Booth will be in Aisle 700 at 730 and 732. We will be showing off our new Teacher Toolkit and its contents which includes two DVDs, a 2GB USB flash drive with podcasts, videos, images from our collection, and lots of handouts and edited scenes. We will also be answering all of your questions about Institutes, Workshops, and the rest of our resources. Be sure to stop by.
- The World Premiere of the Folger’s film of Macbeth Friday night at 8:00 p.m. in the Marriott Independence Ballroom, 3rd floor. The Macbeth DVD including its collection of Special Features will be available to purchase after the screening for $10. Checks please.
- “Teachers Set Free: Lessons Learned from Shakespeare Education at the Folger” (Workshop H.08) on Saturday morning from 11:00-12:15 features Bob Young, Julia Perlowski, and Rick Vanderwall.
- “Teaching Shakespeare to the Class of 2020″ (Workshop K.09) on Saurday afternoon from 4:15-5:30 features presentations on technology by Mike LoMonico, Josh Cabat, Cari Craighead, Chris Shamburg, and Christina Porter.
- “Bill’s Buddies,” our traveling group of actors will perform at a Featured Sesion (N.04) on Sunday afternoon from 1:00-2:45.
- “Shakespeare Set Free: a Short Course from the Folger Library” is an all-day session on Monday from 9:00-3:30. It features, Bob Young, Carol Kelly, Sue Biondo-Hench, Chris Renino, and Tory Talbot.
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