Teaching Shakespeare!

A Folger Education Blog

30th Annual Secondary Schools Festival

Yesterday, March 10, marked the 7th and final day of the Folger’s Secondary Festival.  Saying that it’s the 30th might make it seem staid, but really the Festival is nothing if not fresh and new every single day. With over 1500 students in grades 7-12 in attendance over 7 days – how could it not be?

 Sure – we saw about 8 Midsummers, 6 Macbeths, 5 Much Ados, and 4 Hamlets – but each one was different in style, characterizations, cuts, and concept.  No matter how many times I watch a ‘Pyramus’ “bravely broach his blameful bloody breast” I can’t help but laugh out loud – along with the hundreds of audience members also enjoying themselves. Each Hamlet finds a way to question the meaning of life so that it sounds like new when we hear “to be or not to be.” And each set of witches in Macbeth made their spells spooky, evocative, and downright gleeful.

 Even with the popular classics in prominence, we had schools performing scenes from Lear, Pericles, and even one full-cut of Timon of Athens!  Some even had student directors and adaptors work with their peers to cut and rehearse scripts (from texts written 400 years ago) which they then presented to hundreds of students their own age. Tell me that’s not inspiring.

 It certainly inspired our cast of Commentators – three professionals from DC Theatre and Education joined us each day to discuss the students’ performances. Based on their evaluations, we are able to award not only our Brian Cabe – Spirit of the Festival Award or Peggy O’Brien – Award for Comedy; but also awards for Excellence in Acting, Wiley Witches, or Dynamic Duos who stood out.  All of these awards are listed on the Folger Facebook Fan Page.

 You can see photos from each day of the Festival on Snapfish (there are literally thousands of photos, so give yourself time!). Take a look, and leave a comment if you were once a part of the Folger Festival, or participate in one of the many other Shakespeare Festivals across the country!