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Home :: Archive :: 1996 :: April ::
Re: The Future
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 7, No. 0260.  Thursday, 4 April 1996.

(1)     From:   Charles S. Ross <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 3 Apr 1996 08:11:04 -0500
        Subj:   Re:  SHK 7.0255  Re: The Future

(2)     From:   Eric Armstrong <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 3 Apr 1996 09:20:46 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 7.0255  Re: The Future


(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Charles S. Ross <
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Date:           Wednesday, 3 Apr 1996 08:11:04 -0500
Subject: 7.0255  Re: The Future
Comment:        Re:  SHK 7.0255  Re: The Future

To follow up Porter Jamison's examples of unknown words: The first question I
had last semester teaching The Taming of the Shrew was "What's a rogue?" from
an otherwise educated young person in the front row. I wasn't ready for it and
had to apologize after class from my insensitive response (whatever it was).

Charles Ross
Purdue

(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Eric Armstrong <
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 >
Date:           Wednesday, 3 Apr 1996 09:20:46 -0500
Subject: 7.0255  Re: The Future
Comment:        Re: SHK 7.0255  Re: The Future

Porter Jamison <
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 > writes:

"My question is what should we do to reach them, other than sharing our own love
of language and encouraging its growth in them?  These kids are amazed by these
characters and delight in the stories, but without basic vocabulary (or the
desire to attain it) are we teachers limited to video interpretations, Cliff's
Notes, and three-month discussion series?"

As a teacher of voice and text, I find my acting students struggling INTENSELY
to make sense of the language that they "don't own". One simple game we now
play is to use language that seems unfamiliar to us in colloquial, or everyday
phrasing.

e.g. -  A student couldn't make sense of a simple "Lo" at the beginning of a
speech. She looked it up (dictionary skills are VERY poor too) and decided that
"Look! See! Behold!" was appropriate in this case - at least as a starting
point. However, even when this student UNDERSTOOD the word, she felt she
couldn't use it without having to "think" Look! underneath it. So.... we began
to play with Lo!, making up phrases, often silly ones, like "Lo! my homework is
finished!" or "Lo! Doesn't he look scrumptious!" Having done this exercise with
EVERY word that was even vaguely unfamiliar - words that were understood but
not in daily usage - the actor began to feel she "owned" this piece of
Shakespeare turf.

It seems so simple to me - I have always played these games with language - but
it seems that many of my students have not. Once introduced to the potential
fun of language, of the detective work of research and the pleasure of playing
a phrase from understanding rather than ignorance, Shakespeare becomes a
friend, a colleague to the actors process. I think it is wrong to say that
those unversed in Shakespeare or other classics don't know how to play with
language - they just don't know how to play with THIS language. The
unfamiliarity seems to scare them off... playing with it seems to break down
the fears.

Eric Armstrong
The School of Dramatic Art
University of Windsor, Canada
 

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