Archive for July, 2012

During this month’s Teaching Shakespeare Institute, some of our Summer Scholars have chosen to blog their experiences on their own sites, and have given permission to share some of them here. Today, we catch up with Greta Brasgalla in the last week of TSI:

It is my last week here at TSI and today I requested some rare books from the vault in the Reading Room, so I could take pics of them.  My friend, Kim, already requested Holinshed’s Chronicles last week.

Morning Lecture and Seminar:  Jay Halio and the text of Pericles

I bet most of you have never read Pericles, but it is really a great play.  It has incest, zombies, whores who never do it, romance, and pirates!  Yep, all of that.  Most people don’t even think Shakespeare wrote it because it was not in the First Folio.  It is possible that George Wilkenson co-wrote some scenes.  It is still an interesting play.

Jay discussed how editors make choices in the texts.  Most of us had some Shakespeare anthology we used during college (mine was the Bevington).  Whatever book you had, you are at the mercy of the editors and what THEY believe to be the best way to translate Shakespeare’s words.

Printers had lots of type that they were setting upside down and backwards.  In some cases, they ran out of a letter, flipped it around, or stretched out verse to fill the white space on the page.

Cool idea:  get pics of a folio edition and a quarto and have students examine the difference in language used.  Example:  Desdemona’s speech to the Duke  “That I love the Moor” or “That I did love the Moor.”  Big difference in connotation.  Also, at the end of Othello,  “base Judean” or “base Indian”?

Fun fact:  upper case refers to the large letters that were kept in the printers top case.  Lower case refers to the smaller letters in their bottom case.  (thanks to Deborah Gascon)

Tea Time with Oscar Wilde, Holinshed, and Faust

Here are some pics of the letters and books we had checked out in the Reading Room today:

From Holinshed’s Chronicles:  Macbeth’s confidence in wizards


The Letter.


Another Holinshed photo with Macbeth’s Laws

Finishing up lesson plans and working on our performances for Friday!  Almost there!

Blessed to be Teaching!

Greta heads the English Department at El Dorado Ninth Grade Academy in El Paso, TX.  She holds a Master of Arts degree in English and American Literature and a Bachelor of Arts in English and Theatre Arts from the University of Texas at El Paso, and now has 20 years of classroom experience.

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During this month’s Teaching Shakespeare Institute, some of our Summer Scholars have shared their experience with us. Today, Sarah Lanterman muses on the past four weeks and how she’ll take what she’s learned here into her future classrooms:

As a new teacher, I have been inspired by my experience at the Teaching Shakespeare Institute this month.  The wonderful mix of lectures by renowned scholars, seminars, curriculum, performance, and group work projects has given me new confidence and insight into my work as an educator.  I have forged new friendships and made professional connections that will last a lifetime.  Now, I know this sounds cheesy, but the sense of community we have fostered this month has given me insight into how powerful a learning community can be.  This vision of the potential power of fellow learners—both as teachers and for students—is something that I can’t wait to take back with me to my classroom next year.

Looking back, one of the most important “take-aways” I have from my month at TSI has been the importance and validity of performance as a form of close reading.  Performing the text in a variety of ways from reading around for punctuation, to rehearsing a scene with script in hand, to performing a piece of text learned by heart has given me a new level of comfort and familiarity with the text in ways I would have never anticipated. In our curriculum sessions we have not only discussed this important pedagogical strategy, but we have also experienced the ways in which we continue to gain new insights into and understandings of the text by doing this ourselves.  Another result of experiencing performance as close reading is that I have been more empowered as an educator, and I believe that my students will experience the same sense of growth and insight and empowerment we did when I take this with me into my classroom next year.

Sarah is a high school English teacher and high school girl’s lacrosse coach.  She attended the University of Oregon with a major in English/minor in Spanish.  As an undergraduate she interned with the education department at the Globe Theatre in London.  She earned her MA in Shakespearean Studies at King’s College London, and also served as a research intern with the Globe Education department.  After returning from London, she earned my M.Ed. in Secondary Education at the University of Washington—Bothell. 

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During this month’s Teaching Shakespeare Institute, some of our Summer Scholars have chosen to blog their experiences on their own sites, and have given permission to share some of them here. Today, Gabriel Fernandez shares his experience from a few days in the middle of the scholarly marathon that is TSI:

July 14, 2012

Today was our first research Saturday at the Folger. I am getting a bit tired, a bit burned out although I did hold books in my hands which were printed in 1596, 1600, and 1610, respectively. I was almost scared to even touch those books since they are so rare. You wonder whose hands they went through, whose fingerprints are on their pages, whose sweat and blood even, and what kinds of human lives those books migrated through. What kind of life have those books had? You wish they could talk. Today they migrated through my life!

July 15, 2012

Today is Sunday, and I enjoyed my day off. In the morning, I went with Katie to mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. It is a beautiful church. Standing above the altar is a unique painting of Jesus rising from the dead. It depicts a Christ who is seemingly angry, almost enraged, and muscular, ready to mete out justice: one who demands his due since He paid his dues. This is a picture of Jesus that is hardly seen. It is a beautiful and thought-provoking work of art.

In the afternoon, Rob T, Kim, and I went to the hallowed and holy grounds of Gettysburg. One can almost cut with a knife the atmosphere of pain and suffering, of loss and demoralization, of the human stain tattooed on those fields of that American “band of brothers” fighting, to the death, against each other. You can even envision those bodies piled one upon the other–“And pile them high at Gettysburg / I am the grass. / I cover all.” (Sandburg, “Grass”). It has been a day I will never forget. I brought some rocks back from Gettysburg! And what’s up with that small Texas monument at Gettysburg? Come on Lone Star State!

July 16, 2012

            The third week of the Teaching Shakespeare Institute began with our study of Othello. Mike Witmore, the director of the Folger Shakespeare Library, gave an interesting lecture in the morning. He raised the issue thatOthello is the story of someone who hears the lies he wants to hear, the lies he can, ultimately, not resist. These are lies he seems to wish were true, lies which seem to commune so well with his body and spirit that he finds it very hard to extricate himself from their power. This argument asks an interesting question of us. Can we, as human beings, resist the power of the irresistible lie? Some form of the irresistible lie exists for each of us– tailored and crafted to every individual’s needs, wants, worries, fears, and concerns. Personally, I have succumbed to that power in my life (while I probably still believe that particular lie).

Donna Denizé and Louisa Newlin gave an absolutely amazing talk onOthello in the afternoon. Donna reminded us that Othello is the inexperienced lover, not quite sure how to handle love, not quite sure how to love, and not quite sure how to accept it. He loses control when he falls in love because he releases a fragile vulnerability. In fact, Denizé states that Othello and Desdemona have a spiritual love, a love which is above sexuality, and in the end, perhaps Othello feels, deep down within, that he does not deserve Desdemona in the first place. After all, Othello wooed Desdemona with “his honors and his valiant parts.” Iago recognizes Othello’s flaw, his inborn incredulity, and feeds on it, like a maggot on an open wound.

July 17, 2012

Eight more days to go after today. Where has the time gone? I’m so busy that I have a funny feeling the remainder of this week and next week will fly by. Plus, I’m ready to go home. DC is great, a wonderful, cosmopolitan city, but it’s not where I belong, although this experience has really changed my life, and I have made a bunch of new friends, and everyone I have met and spent time with is great in his or her own way. There is a great quote from W. Somerset Maugham in The Moon and Sixpence about knowing not only where your home is, but where one belongs:

I have an idea that some men are born out of their due place. Accident has cast them amid certain surroundings, but they have always a nostalgia for a home they know not. They are strangers in their birthplace, and the leafy lanes they have known from childhood or the populous streets in which they have played, remain but a place of passage. They may spend their whole lives aliens among their kindred and remain aloof among the only scenes they have ever known. Perhaps it is this sense of strangeness that sends men far and wide in the search for something permanent, to which they may attach themselves. Perhaps some deep-rooted atavism urges the wanderer back to lands which his ancestors left in the dim beginnings of history. Sometimes a man hits upon a place to which he mysteriously feels that he belongs. Here is the home he sought, and he will settle amid scenes that he has never seen before, among men he has never known, as though they were familiar to him from his birth. Here at last he finds rest.

Maybe San Anto, Tejas is my place of rest.

Today in discussion with Stephen Dickey we delved into a study of Iago. It seems Iago is indeed truthful, although he picks and chooses what truths to tell. The comparison was brought up between Iago and the devil (the serpent) while Othello and Desdemona are the Adam and Eve archetypes. Othello and Desdemona seem to carry a pristine innocence within, much like Adam and Eve. Yet, I still have to question the innocence of Othello. This character, this man, is a warrior. He has killed people, and he has mostly likely ordered people to be killed. At his core, he is a soldier. I question his innocence, his inexperience. He has been in “battles,” “sieges,” “hair-breadth scapes,” “sold to slavery.” He is Theseus, he is Perseus, he is Hercules. He is the mythological figure who has seemingly seen it all. So how can he fail so miserably in his marriage to Desdemona? Is it some intrinsic flaw, some recognition of character, of truth, that won’t allow him to love and all Iago has to do is make this truth evident to Othello? Is this why Verdi referred to Iago as “The Truth?” Iago’s piecemeal rendition of the essence of Othello, an essence of being Othello can’t even seem to delineate for himself, the verities of his being, seemingly result in Othello’s downfall. In short, Iago holds up the mirror to Othello’s nature, and the Moor only has to follow, naturally, along.

We also embarked on a discussion of the handkerchief. This article of cloth ties into my argument. I argue that the handkerchief, an instrument, a vessel, of cleanliness, since it’s main purpose is meant to “clean,” is a symbol of Othello’s attempt to clean himself, through the pristine angelic innocence of Desdemona, of egregious errors to his soul. What these errors are is up to debate. In other words, the handkerchief is emblematic of Othello’s attempt to gain not a divine redemption, but a human one. Desdemona can redeem Othello. Once she misplaces it, Othello loses his chance at any redemption, and like any warrior off the field of battle, like Odysseus floating amongst the winds of the gods, he flounders, and ultimately, fails.
Gabriel is a Reading Instructor at the Upward Bound Program for High School Students as well as an Adjunct instructor in Developmental English at Northwest Vista College. He has published numerous newspaper editorials, academic papers, and poems; in addition he has had several plays produced. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Texas at San Antonio following an Associate of Applied Science degree in Criminal Justice at San Antonio College. Gabriel is currently earning a Master of Arts degree in Education at Texas A&M University-Kingsville. 

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During this month’s Teaching Shakespeare Institute, some of our Summer Scholars have chosen to blog their experiences on their own sites, and have given permission to share some of them here. Today, I took an excerpted discussion from the in-lecture chatroom moderated by Robert Barker during which our participants discussed speculation of the plays, character choices, and bringing it all back to the classroom this fall.

(Editor’s Note: This post has been edited for length. Days are full at TSI!)

Margaret discusses her answer to student question: Why does the character do that? She asks for rephrase: why does Shake HAVE the xtr do it? –  Robert

is asking why WS has the character do it going too far? –  cc

such an interesting concept-not why characters act, but why Shakespeare has them act. I never thought of that w Paris in R+J. Fascinating! –  emily

why @cc? –  Christina

How Shakespeare is managing us. I think this is great! –  emily

I like it too @emily. messes with your mind –  Greta

@greta…that’s my point –  cc

@cc I think you have to ask why Sh. does things. There is no other question for me. –  Wyckham

he’s already a challenge to read…do we want to further confuse students by delving into the writer’s mind? just thinking about my students –  cc

has you look at writer’s craft rather than literary motives –  Greta

@cc. Good point. It is great for CW class and for adv. students, though. But needs to be incorporated carefully, to be sure. –  Robert

asking why the author is doing something vs the charac shifts the focus to author’s purpose rather than basic plot –  Christina

@Christina. Which is third approach, yes. And then we can discuss what we speculate intent was vs. what our interpretation/reaction is –  Robert

the speculation is troubling at times –  cc

while stdts may be confused at 1st, det. author’s motives helps stdts ultimately become more effective readers of fiction and nonfiction –  Christina

Margaret discusses how Roderigo’s death is obscured and protracted — b/c, she surmises, Shake needs him alive. –  Robert

I’m troubled by speculating that Shake’s choices are purely contrivance, though. All drama is contrived. –  Robert

rob..i agree…you see…speculation is not always good –  cc

@cc. Touche. –  Robert

But isn’t speculation actually interpretation in this context? She’s supporting her point – pretty convincingly. –  JZ

I mean – I speculate about why Romney will not show us his taxes – but when it’s literature, it’s analysis. –  JZ

“unruly tongue of shrewish woman” love it! –  emily

@JZ. Also true. I think we are all saying version of same thing — that being inside or outside the play requires diff. approaches/premises –  Robert

with too many interpretations we can lose focus on the story –  cc

@cc for sure–but part of our job as teachers is to teach kids how to THINK–I like the idea of giving them both sides –  emily

emily…i was writing the same thing as you posted –  cc

teaching students how to think does not mean butcher the play with constant speculations on something that we will never know for sure –  cc

@cc if we give them information and motivate them to research it, we teach them how to think for themselves (in my opinion:)! –  emily

Oh – I don’t mean to say we should give students anything. I’m just a supporter of a million different interpretations so long as back it up with research/textual evidence – JZ

@emily…that’s not where i was coming from…but yes, i agree with that always! –  cc @jz…i thought you meant give the students information…now we are on the same page – cc

@cc – good to know! I give them the text (meaning, I choose it) they read it as they wish! –  JZ

i have to read the texts with my students otherwise it wont happen –  cc

@cc – yes – I read it with them – but if I’m expecting them to write about it, I want something original – and sometimes I get it! –  JZ

But – it just always needs to be supported. I think that’s what is so cool about WS – so much ambiguity – so many chances for VALID analysis – JZ

@jz….true of most literature…we bring our own experiences and knowledge to whatever we read. Interpretation varies – cc

@healthy debate: interest. to think of Witmore’s rhetoric disc. re: all this. B/c we then need to use any avail. means of persuasion to back up our opinions, about xtrs or about author intention. –  Robert

MM: Shake’s “reckless contriving” in how he deals w Desdemona in end. –  Robert

how do we explain that to our students? –  cc

so far this is my only issue with teaching Othello –  cc

We disc. MM’s assertion that when we don’t know why Shake did contrivance, it is only starting point for our attempt to understand… –  Robert

for those who have taught othello…how did you deal with the ending of having Des still talking after death –  cc

does anyone know WHERE we can buy Giraldi Cinthio’s Hecatommithi? Amazon doesn’t have it, and I want to read it to use in the classroom! –  emily


As an English and Creative Writing teacher at the Archer School for Girls in Los Angeles, CA, Robert Barker (Robert) teaches Shakespeare to students in grades seven through twelve. Robert received a Master of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University.

Christina Alvarez (Christina) serves as the Language Arts department chairperson at South Miami High School. She received a Master of Science degree in English Education from Florida International University.

Jill Burdick-Zupancic (JZ) incorporates Shakespeare into her lessons at KIPP DC, where she teaches 10th-grade English.  She received a Master of Arts degree in Teaching from the University of California, Irvine .

Cicily Coney (CC) teaches 11th– and 12th-grade English at Dr. Phillips High School in Orlando, FL. She fosters the creative development of young poets at her school, where she has founded the student spoken word poetry group Verse-ability. Cicily earned a Master of Education degree in Elementary Education with Secondary Education from the University of Phoenix.

Emily Tuckman (Emily) heads the Drama program and teaches English at Brooklyn Technical High School. Emily earned a Master of Arts degree in Educational Theatre and English Education from New York University following a Bachelor of Arts degree in Comparative Literature from Haverford College. 

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During this month’s Teaching Shakespeare Institute, some of our Summer Scholars have chosen to blog their experiences on their own sites, and have given permission to share some of them here. Today, Abbey Hope shares her experience from last week’s busy first days, and her takeaways from working with our Scholars and Guest Lecturers.

(Editor’s Note: This post has been edited for length. Days are full at TSI!)

First of all, I would like to say that I was a fool to think I could blog every day.  Last week was such a whirlwind of learning and working that I had no time at all for reflecting or writing.  (Well, somewhere around Thursday or Friday I think I managed to post about our theatre trip from the previous Saturday!)

Monday was positively jam-packed.  [We spent the afternoon] in both lecture / demonstration, and working collaboratively to try out the methodologies of Mary Ellen Dakin, English teacher at Revere HS and author of Reading Shakespeare with Young Adults and Reading Shakespeare Film First.  Ms. Dakin said her essential question is “How should we read Shakespeare in the 21st century with all our students?  Her answer, in a nutshell, was to suggest we use a triangle:


                    Theatrical                                                          Cinematic

You might imagine that there are arrows showing the regular movement in both directions from point to point on this triangle.  There are many ways teachers can embrace this; Dakin said you might start with still images, but she had brought video cameras with her so that we could try a full on film-making  project.  We were given about one hour before lunch and another hour after lunch to make a film about the making of a film, in a sense.  So the film showed our groups working and discussing the scene we were assigned, and also interviewing experts and amateurs, rehearsing, and finally shooting our final project.  We edited all of this together after lunch and then showed the results.  I have to say, I loved working with my group, Robert, Kim, and Charlene, on our scene from The Taming of the Shrew.  I wish I could link to the film so you all could see it!  The most exciting thing we discovered in this process was that the rehearsal and production process entails many close readings, and students will be sure to reach deep understandings of complex literature in this way.

On Tuesday Jay Halio, who wrote, among other things, Understanding Shakespeare’sMerchant of Venice, which I consulted yesterday in my research, presented the morning lecture on Staging The Merchant of Venice.  The big question is, do you stage it as a tragedy or a comedy?  For the first performances, did Will Kempe, who played the clown roles play Shylock or Lancelot Gobo?  Was Shylock presented as a comic villain, as some think?  Or as a tragic hero as is more often the case?  Shakespeare, himself, who often took an older role, may have played Antonio.

There were many other interesting point to Jay’s lecture, and it was a pleasure to discuss them in our new seminar groups with Margaret Mauer.  We decided our main points would be
*  Anti-semitism
*  Antonio
*  Sympathies toward characters?
*  Parallel Marital Situations of Portia and Jessica
*  Stereotypes
*  Love and Finance Language
*  Portia as a character.

Margaret led off by saying:  “Theories of comedy are no laughing matter.”

Several of us were quite happy to forgo sandwiches and lunchtime colloquium for our “Free Lunch Tuesday.”  After lunch we divided into our acting groups:  Montagues and Capulets.  I, with the Capulets, joined Caleen Sinnette-Jennings in the Theatre.  I am sworn to secrecy regarding what we did there, but suffice it to say, I came out a much freer actor than I was before.

Abbey currently teaches English at the High School for Arts and Technology in New York, NY. In addition to bringing Shakespeare to her students, she has also taught a wide variety of forms of writing: business writing, journalism, screenwriting, creative writing, and college prep writing. She is a leader in curriculum development in her school. Abbey holds a Master of Education degree from Lehman College as well as a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Massachusetts

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During this month’s Teaching Shakespeare Institute, some of our Summer Scholars have chosen to blog their experiences on their own sites, and have given permission to share some of them here. Today, Bill Parsons shares an insight he explored during TSI that he’ll take back to his classroom this fall:

Lately I’ve tried to put myself inside the head of a student — NOT one who wants to grow up and be an English teacher, but one of the many busy, distracted, and bored young men or women who have sat in my class and asked themselves a question that regrettably, I didn’t have an answer for:

What am I supposed to learn?



After 19 years of pretending to teach English, I’m finally starting to figure this one out. Ultimately, my answer is this:


The trick, of course, is to help students to lose that need. And the secret is this: It’s not a trick.

When my students feel this compulsive, borderline psychotic urge to know what they “have to know,” I try to remind myself that this need is ingrained in the student because for most of his or her conscious life the school experience has been similar to that of a goose being prepared for foie gras — a steady force-feeding of literary cliches, platitudes, and other varieties of balderdash — in the hopes that they’ll produce beautifully written restatements of everything I’ve told them.

In these moments (where typically an earnest student ask me what’s on the test) I have to remind myself to do three things:

  1. Tell them clearly what I want them to know.
  2. Give that student a chance to share her own ideas about what’s important in the book — and what she cares about.
  3. Make sure that the students understand that their ideas matter as much or more than their memory of what I want them to know.

None of these ideas is tricky…. But each one requires planning. The first is fairly easy, since all I have to do is pick something. The second and third call for some empathy. How can I plan this activity so that the student finds something to share an authentic idea?

At yesterday’s session from the Folger Library’s Teaching Shakespeare Institute, I got a great lesson from Sue Biondo-Hench. She showed us this poem from Walt Whitman:

A Noiseless Patient Spider

A noiseless, patient spider, 
I mark’d, where, on a little promontory, it stood, isolated; 
Mark’d how, to explore the vacant, vast surrounding, 
It launch’d forth filament, filament, filament, out of itself; 
Ever unreeling them—ever tirelessly speeding them.

And you, O my Soul, where you stand, 
Surrounded, surrounded, in measureless oceans of space, 
Ceaselessly musing, venturing, throwing,—seeking the spheres, to connect them; 
Till the bridge you will need, be form’d—till the ductile anchor hold; 
Till the gossamer thread you fling, catch somewhere, O my Soul.

When I share this poem with students, I can tell them very easily what I want them to know: The speaker compares his soul to a spider (metaphor) to illustrate his need to connect and anchor to something.

With two very simple and exquisitely beautiful questions, though, Sue provided a hook that ensures that students have their own ideas — ideas that are clearly more important and interesting than an analysis of the metaphor:

  1. What connections have you made that anchor you?
  2. What connections are you longing to make?
My guess is that very few of the students will write and/or talk about their anchors to correct answers, or their connections to getting good grades. My hope is that they will be able to talk about how they sometimes feel like that spider. And if they can find themselves in that spider, then class is dismissed.
Bill teaches English at North Broward Preparatory School in Florida, yet he has served as an English teacher and an administrator in schools in Caracas and Lisbon. He is an avid fan of jazz music. He holds a Master of Education degree from The College of New Jersey as well as a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and American Language and Literature from Harvard College.
Check back during the month of July for more “TSI Experiences” from participants and staff!

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During this month’s Teaching Shakespeare Institute, some of our Summer Scholars have chosen to blog their experiences on their own sites, and have given permission to share some of them here. Today we’ll look back on yesterday’s very full day of activities with Greta Brasgalla:

And we are back for another week!  Today was a bit strange because we had lectures all day including an extra one in the evening.

Morning Lecture:  David Schalkwyk on The Sonnets

David is the epitome of the Shakespearean professor–suit, tie, errant hair, and British accent.  In short, completely charming to listen to.  He discussed the sonnets and some of the themes that are present.  He framed his lecture by saying his son was getting married and he wanted to read a sonnet at the wedding.  He soon discovered that none of them are appropriate.

Helen Vendler says that unlike a play, the lyric is empty of any particular voice.  Any person who speaks them, becomes them.

We learned the importance of pronouns in the sonnets.  For those of you who have no idea about this (as I did), here is a summary

  • thee and thou are used for close family, for God, and from Master to servant
  • you is more formal
  • this is similar to the use of tu and usted in Spanish

As one looks through the sonnets ( we looked at 13, 57, 58, 121, 135, 126) you see Shakespeare making use of these pronouns to emphasize his intimacy with the subject and his displeasure with their relationship.

Interesting fact:  The phrase “Do you love me?” is only used once in Shakespeare (the Tempest). “Dost thou love me?” is used many times.

Independent Research and Lunchtime Colloquium on LUNA database

We had some time after lecture to go into the Reading Room and begin research, or work with Stephen [Dickey] and Margaret [Maurer, two of TSI’s resident instructing scholars] on EEBO (Early English Books Online).  Both of them really helped me find some items on my research topic:  Venice as another  “other” in Merchant and Othello.

At lunch, we learned about the LUNA database which is accessible to the public.  It hold digital images of everything the Folger has photographed over the years.  You can search “Hamlet” and find pics of costumes and renderings of productions as well as pics of the Folio.  Really great for showing your students different ways of staging a play.  Click on the link and check it out!

Curriculum Presentation:  Mary Ellen Dakin “Reading Shakespeare with Young Adults”

MaryEllen had us doing some video projects today using her idea of the relationship between the Literary/Theatrical/Cinematic connection.  MaryEllen calls this “transmediation.”

Our assignment was to film a scene, but add in scenes of us planning, expert advice, and other tidbits.  MaryEllen used the sample of Al Pacino’s “Looking for Richard” for this.  We filmed our scene and my friend Melanie did some speed editing on Moviemaker.

After dinner, we went back to the Folger for a great lecture by Ralph Cohen about the Blackfriars Theater.  Interesting that the seating in the BF was exactly the opposite of the Globe:  rich people were onstage and in the front of the theater to be seen.

A great day today made even better by the mild weather over here!

Greta heads the English Department at El Dorado Ninth Grade Academy in El Paso, TX.  She holds a Master of Arts degree in English and American Literature and a Bachelor of Arts in English and Theatre Arts from the University of Texas at El Paso, and now has 20 years of classroom experience.

Check back during the month of July for more “TSI Experiences” from participants and staff!

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For each summer of the Teaching Shakespeare Institute, Folger Education brings in two dedicated interns specifically for the program. Hannah and Megan, this year’s interns, share what their average day during TSI has been so far:

6:00am: Hannah’s alarm goes off. Hannah is living on site at the Folger with other TSI Faculty members.

6:20am: Hannah arrives at Folger offices and turns on the photocopier.

6:30am: Megan’s alarm goes off. Megan lives at American University with TSI Participants.

6:49am: Megan has first cup of coffee.

7:45am: Bus departs from AU to the Folger, participants (and faculty member Caleen Sinette-Jennings!) in tow. Lunch orders are collected on the bus.

8:00am: Hannah makes coffee for the participants, for which they are very grateful.

8:15am: Bus arrives at the Folger. Participants are greeted by the smiling Faculty and treats made by the lovely Caitlin Griffin! (Editor’s Note: gawrsh!)

9:00am: Homeroom starts. Hannah wins one of the day’s prizes, “Flipping Shakespeare.” Together interns do first Starbucks run of the day and drop off lunch orders (multi-tasking!).

9:30am: Hannah attends lecture by Professor Margaret Maurer, “Duplicity in the Comedy of Errors.”

10-11am: Last minute preparations for the day, including making the Shakespearean dialogue cards for today’s Curriculum Session, “Two-Line Shakespeare Plays.”

11:30am: Pick up lunch. Megan sits in on the lunchtime colloquium with Erin Blake, the Curator of Art and Special Collections to learn about the Folger’s collection.

12:45pm: Second Starbucks run of the day. (Interns operate on caffeine.)

1:51pm: Interns are forced to write blog post about TSI. (Editor’s Note: asked politely!)

2:30pm: Megan sets up rehearsal spaces for the Performance Sessions. Hannah does final preparations for Saturday’s trip to Staunton, VA to see the Merchant of Venice.

3:00pm: High Tea at the Folger! Interns speak with scholars about the research they’re doing in the Library.

3:30pm: Megan and Hannah attend lecture by Barbara Mowat, Director of Research and Editor of the Folger Editions, “Editing Shakespeare.”

5:00pm: Megan leaves with the participants on the bus to AU.

5:30pm: Hannah finishes preparations for the next morning and gets frozen yogurt with the Faculty members.

6:07pm: Interns collapse.

Hannah is a recent graduate of Vassar College, and Megan is a recent graduate of American University. We are very lucky to have them both, and very grateful that they shared their experience with us today! It’s only 4 weeks, but it can feel a lot longer when you’re this busy!

Check back next week for more from TSI faculty and (hopefully) participants!

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TSI Summer Scholars from 2010

This past weekend began our latest summer of the Teaching Shakespeare Institute!

TSI, funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, gives us the opportunity to meet 25 secondary teachers from all over the country, and explore performance-based teaching with them for their own classroom experience.

TSI is a bustling time at the Folger, with our summer scholars here every weekday for 4 weeks (and the occasional Saturday for Reading Room time). The energy is invigorating, and the discussions we’ve already been able to have with these classroom teachers from near and far has been enlightening.

We’re hoping that some of our summer scholars will have time in their busy schedule during TSI to share their own thoughts and ideas with you firsthand – we will see how that turns out between 8 hours of TSI per day, plus rehearsals, plus trips and special events, etc. In the meantime, I can tell you that they’re re-reading and discussing The Comedy of Errors, getting on their feet with performance-based teaching methods, learning about Web 2.0 in the classroom, performing scenes for each other, and getting to know the resources available at the Folger Shakespeare Library.

Next week it’s a new play, a new set of projects, and a new series of lectures and discussions.

Everybody will have tomorrow off to catch their breath before plunging in again, so enjoy your Independence Day, if you’re in America, and we’ll hope to share some firsthand TSI experience with you next time!

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