Teaching Shakespeare!

A Folger Education Blog


Sometimes before jumping into the physical art of performance, we like to explore other media with students to expand their discussion of Shakespeare. We’ve mentioned the myriad of ways students approach an Illumination Project in our High School Fellowship Program, shown you examples of “remixing” Shakespeare’s text with audio effects, tried our hand at animating scenes with free online programs, explored the crossover potential of Shakespeare with comics, and considered creative writing projects centered on Shakespeare’s plays (with or without Vampires)…

What else?

Students at St. Peter’s create collages for Macbeth

Two of our Shakespeare Steps Out projects during the 8-visit program are visual art projects. In one the students draw a picture based on the Queen Mab speech fromĀ Romeo and Juliet of what they see in their imagination when they listen. The colorful and inspired images that come from this project never cease to amaze us. The second project takes place after the students have been cast for their festival performance – they are then given magazines and publications in which to find words and images they believe describe or represent their character. They have a lot of fun cutting and gluing – yes – but they also have to determine who their character is, what that character wants, what it is that defines them, in order to put it into pictures.

Art is a big part of the Folger’s collection, as well. Our Library has been collecting paintings, statues, and other renderings of Shakespeare and his characters from the last 400 years, and the variety of ways people imagine certain scenes or characters is worth the effort to study.

What is it about Shakespeare’s text that makes it so ripe for picturing? Besides Queen Mab, are there any passages that leap out at you for students to listen and create from?

Have your students created any artwork related to Shakespeare?

One Comment

  • I am researching teaching Shakespeare to children and I have come across many examples of instructors using art to help students explore Shakespeare. I believe since Shakespeare’s plays are meant to be performed, drawing helps the children imagine the action of the scene.

    The program I am developing will rely on many different activities designed to help children picture and experience the plays. I believe it is the best way to help nearly every student to make Shakespeare their own.

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