Teaching Shakespeare!

A Folger Education Blog

These People in This Room at This Time

~by Carol Ann Lloyd Stanger

students perform Taming of the Shrew at the 2012 Secondary Festival

A few weeks ago, I was able to sit in on a read through of Taming of the Shrew. I know the play; I knew the lines. But listening to those actors in that room on that day, the language really came alive for me. The actors brought parts of themselves to the lines, and then interacted with the other actors to bring the speeches to life. The words became living, changing things as I heard them.

This reminded me of an experience in a 10th grade English program. I came in to help the students understand a play they were studying. I worked with three different classes in one day. All the students were 10th graders attending the same school. In theory, the experiences with the same lines from the same play should have been—similar.

But different children brought different “selves” to the lines, interacted in their own way with others in the room. All three classes interpreted and presented the lines in entirely different ways. It was exciting to see the lines come to life through the students’ work. Those student actors in that room on that day created the play and the world of the play themselves. It was truly exciting to see it happen three different times.

Teaching students to experience, live, breathe, and perform Shakespeare allows them to bring the words to life. How do you encourage students to have a real experience with Shakespeare?

Carol Ann Lloyd Stanger is the Docent Liason for Folger Education, a frequent contributor for Making a Scene, and a published writer for Calliope magazine. 

One Comment

  • This is exactly a concern that my family, friends and I talk about a lot! I have a 4-year-old daughter, and I’ve been composing nursery rhymes for her, each one ‘sung by’ a different character from Shakespeare. She isn’t yet connecting the songs to Shakespeare, but she’s identifying with the characters and their issues (such as shyness, etc.) and one day, I’m hoping she’ll have an “Aha!” moment when she realises that she understood Cordelia and Juliet and Viola from an early age…

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