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Posts Tagged ‘Shakespeare clubs’

By Sara Lehn

Michael Fassbender as Macbeth

Michael Fassbender as Macbeth (Image: StudioCanal)

“Who would you choose?  Benedict Cumberbatch or Michael Fassbender?”

“Cumberbatch!”

“But have you seen the new Michael Fassbender trailer?  It looks amazing!”

 

It is the first meeting of the school year for my Shakespeare Society’s Executive Board.  Although it has been months since we all met, our table is brimming with enthusiasm, excitement, and fresh ideas for how to bring Shakespeare to our school’s population.  And, of course, a debate on which would make a better field trip: Benedict Cumberbatch’s live theater broadcast of Hamlet or Michael Fassbender’s upcoming film of Macbeth.  There is clearly some dissent in the ranks.

 

Several years ago, a group of students started an application for a new Shakespeare club in our high school.  I was not a part of the initial process, but I was lucky enough to be able to step in and help them to pursue their goal.  Last September their efforts came to fruition, and I became the advisor of the new Shakespeare Society.

 

We started out simply: the 30-second Macbeth, Slugs and Clods, light-hearted activities to provide a little laughter and fun.  We planned a movie night and spent a wonderful Friday evening curled up on the floor of our study center with blankets and pillows and slices of pizza.  As the year progressed and our school’s annual Shakespeare Festival approached, we chose and rehearsed scenes and planned audience-participation activities.  The festival culminated our first year together, and left me looking forward to continuing the expansion of our club.

 

Students don’t have to love Shakespeare to join our Shakespeare Society. In fact, several of my club members openly profess that they are not particularly big fans.  (more…)

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In addition to teaching Shakespeare as part of school curriculum, teachers sometimes find themselves working with the Bard outside of class. I recently received an inquiry from a teacher who works with students in grades 6 and 7 who has been assigned the task of creating a Shakespeare club – the catch is that not all of the students will be volunteering to join; some will be required to participate in the club.

We have several resources that can help make the study of Shakespeare fun and rewarding, and might even turn reluctant students into enthusiastic learners. The key is to approach the subject with an active, curious, and open mind – look at the experience as a way to share the learning process with your students.

1. Make it about them. When students have ownership of the process and the work, their creativity has an opportunity to shine. Interpreting Character is one example of an effective exercise to get students actively thinking about characters and motivation. It’s also an excellent technique for introducing a play, and you don’t have to start with Act 1, Scene 1.

2. Make it unexpected. Surprise your students by asking them to create podcasts or short videos as part of their Shakespeare study, or to present their own version of a key scene.  Technology and being asked to do something new and different can often win over students who aren’t sure that they like literature. Remixing Shakespeare shows you how to make audio mashups with your students.

3. Make it participatory. We believe that the best way to learn Shakespeare is to do Shakespeare. Our Shakespeare for Kids webpages have proven very successful with teachers, so that’s a good place to start.  You’ll find activities, games, and ready-to-use scripts, as well as other resources about Shakespeare and the Folger Shakespeare Library.

And now, I open the floor to other suggestions.  If you have a Shakespeare Club that you are currently advising, what suggestions do you have for getting a club off the ground and hooking students from a variety of backgrounds into the wonders of the Bard?

– Bob Young

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