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Posts Tagged ‘Secondary School Shakespeare Festival’

Emily Jordan Folger Children's Festival, 2013. Folger Shakespeare Library.

Emily Jordan Folger Children’s Festival, 2013.
Folger Shakespeare Library.

Last week we wrapped up our annual Secondary School Shakespeare Festival.

Students from close to 50 local schools performed 25-minute scenes from Shakespeare plays onstage at the Folger in front of their peers.

(You can see some photos and tweets at #FolgerFest. A lot of fun had by all!)

Now we’re getting ready for our Children’s Festival in May, for local students in grades 3-6!

We’ve got a great thing going on here in the DC area, but student Shakespeare festivals have cropped up in other parts of the U.S. too.

There’s the Shakesperience: NJ festival in May, hosted by the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey in partnership with the Folger Shakespeare Library and Rider University.

Then there’s the Shakespeare Scene Festival for middle school and high school students, held at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock–a festival that was inspired by a workshop at the Folger!

We could go on naming them, but we want to ask you these questions: Is there a student Shakespeare festival in your area? If not, what’s standing in the way of you starting one?

The Folger has some great material to help you organize and prepare for a festival. Find what you need on our website:

And if you’re participating in or preparing for a student Shakespeare festival right now, how’s it going? We’d love to hear from you and your students.

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2013 Secondary School Festival. Folger Shakespeare Library.

2013 Secondary School Festival. Folger Shakespeare Library.

Let’s make a date for another day to have a longer, more nuanced conversation about the many parts of the Common Core.

For now, I just want to say that if we could put politics aside and testing aside (and unfortunately, in our beloved field of education, we can put aside neither for long), the expectations for student mastery laid out in the Common Core are the same kinds of expectations that good teachers have had for their students for centuries. Centuries.

And what gets me going on about the Common Core at the moment is that our theatre is crammed this week and next with middle and high school students performing Shakespeare at the Secondary School Shakespeare Festival. (more…)

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The Festivals we host at the Folger are my favorite experiences of the year. Students pour into the Folger Theatre with all the energy their young frames can contain and explode with life onstage with Shakespeare’s words.

Sure: not everything always goes as planned. Lines are dropped; nerves get the better of someone; a cast-mate misses a cue… but on those days we hope students take away the knowledge that they can try again tomorrow. The Festival is not the be-all and end-all, but appreciating the language and trying something new is something to hold on to.

Our Secondary Festival takes place over seven days, with 8 schools participating each day. Each group has 25 minutes to present their piece – whether it’s a selection of scenes, an edited full play, or a montage of scenes from many plays creating something new. Between performances, our Mistress of the Revels plays games in which students die the deaths of the tragedies, race to finish Hamlet in under 32 seconds, and compare the comedic tropes of the canon. There’s a break for lunch in the middle, and a break for entertainment (provided by us) in which our commentators discuss the performances of the day and decide whom to recognize for their efforts in acting or understanding of the language. There is no competition for these recognitions, only a celebration of their achievements.

The Children’s Festival later this spring will be five days long with 6 schools performing each day. They’ll be entertained by each other, by an entertainer, and by our Mistress; and they will not get recognitions. Instead, they’ll process through the Folger with homemade banners and our special guest Queen Elizabeth I.

Are there Shakespeare festivals in your area? Tell us about them! We love hearing about (and seeing) Shakespeare performed by students of all ages!

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There may be snow on the ground, but Spring is in the air at the Folger.  As the Cherry Blossoms in Washington prepare to bloom, so do our local budding Bards as they prepare for the student festivals right around the corner. While the high school students will stomp the boards in just a couple of weeks at our annual Secondary School Festival, their younger comrades in the elementary grades will give them a run for their money in mid-May during our 34th Annual Children’s Festival. The work of all of these youngsters in their grappling of the text, their connections to the intricate characters and relationships in Shakespeare’s plays is sometimes inconceivable and without a doubt exciting.

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On the heels of our Children’s Festival is the equally exciting Conference on Teaching Shakespeare in the Elementary Classroom. So for all of those who would like to know what this work looks like, now is your chance to join the movement. We are excited to host both local and national educators as we experience the incredible work being done with primary level students and Shakespeare.

As we share our stories, we’ll also experience and hear the stories behind two newly published books that should be welcomed additions to your Shakespeare for kids library.

Internationally acclaimed playwright Ken Ludwig (Lend Me a Tenor, Crazy for You) joins us as our keynote speaker. Adding author to his long list of accomplishments, Ken will talk and give a demonstration from his newly published book How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare (available June 11). We’ll also be joined by Daeshin Kim, writer and composer of the picture book and CD, A Horse with Wings: Songs for Children Sung by Characters from Shakespeare. Hear about Daeshin’s journey to re-creating the stories of Shakespeare’s characters through music and the voice of a child.

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To see a full list of our conference presenters and to register, check out http://www.folger.edu/eec.

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