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Posts Tagged ‘Student Festivals’

By Folger Education

The testimonials keep coming in, and they’re so much more compelling than anything we could say about the Secondary School Shakespeare Festival. Thank you, festival friends! And happy reading, teachers everywhere!

 

Students at the Secondary Student Festival (photo: Kate Ryan)

Students at the Secondary Student Festival (photo: Kate Ryan)

 

I am an 8th grader at Center City Public Charter School. My class performed the play A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare. From our teachers we learned that Shakespeare was a poet and he wrote plays that were performed on stage in his theatre. We also learned vocabulary of Shakespeare to prepare us for our performance. I honestly enjoyed our performance at the Folger Theatre. Practicing our lines made us learn responsibility, which helped us succeed. When we remembered our lines we became proud and started to use emotion and come into character. I played Demetrius, a male character, and I am female. I wanted to play a male because it was more of a challenge than playing a woman. Also, I know that in Shakespeare’s time men had to play women because it was considered immoral for people to watch women perform. I had fun playing Shakespeare games in between plays and watching other schools perform. We were the youngest of the group, being in middle school. We saw how advanced and devoted to character the other schools were and felt proud for getting recognized for our first performance.

  • Ramani, student, Washington, DC

 

There is something so very powerful in words.  They have the power to build and in the wrong mouths, the power to destroy. In the glorious Folger Theatre, the words of Shakespeare took on life and power of their own.  In the mouths of over a hundred high school students the immortal lines of Shakespeare were fresh and new. The talented students from Catoctin High School and Sherwood High School breathed a fresh life into familiar characters such as Macbeth and Caliban.  Montgomery Blair High treated us all to a lovely interpretation of Pericles – not read by many adults, let alone 15-year-olds!  Queen Elizabeth School delighted us all by performing a lively retelling of Comedy of Errors – with actual twins!

The Mistress of the Revels and the team around her made everyone feel loved, welcomed, and well cared for.

But the most powerful words all day were the words the students shared with one another. Students shouted and cheered for peers. Students critiqued one another with generosity and grace. The power of kind words reigned. By the end of the day everyone had made a hundred new friends.  Emails were exchanged, selfies (groupies) were taken, and hugs were given freely and eagerly.  It was a magical day where words were celebrated and we all were blessed to have been there.

  • Karen Stitely, teacher and drama director, Thurmont, Maryland

 

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By Folger Education

 

Hey, everyone! Since you can’t be here for the Secondary School Shakespeare Festival, we thought we’d share some glimpses into all this magic. Here’s what our fabulous Festival-goers have to say about their time with Shakespeare’s language and one another.

 

“When I found out we were performing Shakespeare, I was not sure how I felt. As we rehearsed I started to really enjoy it.”  –Maddie, student

 

“This was my first time at the Folger Festival and my school did Julius Caesar. I really enjoyed working on the Folger stage and getting to see all of the other schools perform their pieces. I especially liked the feedback that we got from the judges. I also had a lot of fun participating in the activities in between pieces. I actually thought those were really helpful because they helped people relax before they had to go onstage. I was a little nervous beforehand, but the people at the Folger made me feel comfortable onstage. I also really liked the awards ceremony. I thought that all of the awards were really creative. Overall, I loved the festival, and I will definitely be coming back next year, whether as an ensemble member or as part of the audience.” – Lela, student

 

“Thank you for the day, and thank you for the opportunity to share our excitement! – Susan, teacher

 

“On the bus ride to the Folger I was nervous, but really excited.”  – Olivia, student

 

“It was an honor to perform one of Shakespeare’s plays. I felt proud of myself for standing up on stage in front of strangers and my family.”  –Sebastian, student

 

“My overall Shakespeare experience was incredible! “  –Hanna, student

 

“Going to the Folger and performing Julius Caesar was truly a special experience.” –Teny, student

 

“I learned there are ‘No small parts.’” –Matthew, student

 

“It was interesting to see how other kids interpreted Shakespeare’s language.”   –Sebastian, student

 

“I thoroughly enjoyed the peer comments. Giving and receiving constructive criticism was rewarding.”  –Jorgen, student

“My favorite acting game was 30 second Hamlet.” –Caroline, student

 

“After our performance it was incredible to receive comments from such accomplished actresses.”  –Beyer, student

 

“My respect towards Shakespeare greatly increased while preparing our play.” –Alex, student

 

“It was exciting to perform on a professional stage and I hope I can do it again.” –Niya, student

 

Thanks again, students and teachers, for bringing your talents and energy to the Folger. We love learning with you!

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SSF 2015

Secondary Shakespeare Festival 2015 (Photo: Katie Dvorak)

Greetings from our 34th Secondary School Shakespeare Festival!

It’s day two, and we’re just loving everyone’s joy, courage, and passion for language. Festival-goers are making friends and memories all over the place.

And we at Folger Education are convinced that we’re the luckiest people on earth: we get to watch inspiring young people perform and transform all kinds of scenes—a bloodthirsty Romeo and Juliet, a cleverly cartoonish Comedy of Errors, an artistic Pericles, a haunting and timely Julius Caesar… What powerful reminders of the enduring relevance of Shakespeare.

We’ve got  five more days of bliss, and we’ll be checking back in with more next week.  For now, enjoy this poetic reflection from the Festival’s famous Mistress of the Revels, Cam Magee:

“I dream of the festival on festival days. I may dream tonight of a pink-haired Hamlet, wild-haired witches, a red-haired Macbeth, a brave boy who learned the role of Duncan in an evening, actors entering as one character and leaving as another,  a turquoise-robed Ariel, a singing Stephano, an awkward love scene, a storm at sea, a chorus of Gowers, pirates, sweet-faced Dromios, a tiny angry Adriana, a kaleidoscope of colors only found in England, and Liam who loves buttons. I hope I dream of everyone because every one of you ‘gave me life’ today.”

 

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Students perform a scene from Much Ado About Nothing in the 2012 Folger Seconday School Festival

I’ve written about student festivals before, but I want to come back to the topic again and,  this time, look at the thematic lines being explored by students and teachers in their festival performances.  Recently, I attended Shakesperience: NJ at The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey.  Two days of absolute delight watching students engage the text and make meaning of Shakespeare’s language.  What is not to like about that opportunity?  While many of the schools presented selected scenes from the plays, or reduced versions of the play (keeping Shakespeare’s language in tact), some looked at thematic lines and explored them through excerpts from a number of the plays.  Among those performances was one on “love’s confusion,” taking scenes from Twelfth Night and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Another explored the “trilogy of evil” in Julius Caesar, Macbeth, and Titus Andronicus.  What is interesting about these thematic choices is that the students were directly involved in selecting the scenes used to explore the themes, demonstrating that close reading of the text has a direct link to performance-based work on the plays.  Love and evil are two common thematic links to Shakespeare’s plays, to be sure. I wondered what others there were and what plays might be used to present them in performance.  So, if you and your students have presented a series of scenes from Shakespeare’s plays linked to a theme, share what you did with the rest of us. It might be a great way to introduce your students to several plays without taking them through the complete work.

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Another season of student festivals is behind us, and with it, another hearty showing of all the Shakespeare favorites: Romeo and Juliet and Midsummer Night’s Dream always have a loyal following (you just can’t beat a good Pyramus and Thisbe), Macbeth and Hamlet continue to be crowd pleasers, and Twelfth Night and Winter’s Tale are hot new additions to the mix.  One quick read and it is easy to see why these great works have become timeless favorites and why teachers and students revisit them again and again.  But over the course of his lifetime, Shakespeare wrote about 37 plays (give or take some of the disputed co-authorships) as well as a plethora of poetry.  What about the other 31 plays?

Bob Young, Folger’s Director of Education, has argued for years on the countless benefits of reading Titus Andronicus with students (what kid doesn’t love a good tale of blood and gore?), and this year, we were pleasantly surprised to watch a student-directed cutting of the rarely seen Timon of Athens.  Perhaps it’s time to visit some of Shakespeare’s lesser-produced works and see where students take them.  Or maybe you already have…

Which of Shakespeare’s plays have you worked on with your students?  Are there any plays you see as being too difficult or risky to venture, and why?  If you have studied or produced a lesser-known Shakespeare work with students, what was the experience like for you?

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