Make a Donation

Consider making a donation to support SHAKSPER.

Subscribe to Our Feeds

Current Postings RSS

Announcements RSS

Home :: Archive :: 2002 :: February ::
Re: Place of Performance
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.0359  Thursday, 7 February 2002

[1]     From:   Evelyn Gajowski <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Wednesday, 6 Feb 2002 09:19:07 -0800 (PST)
        Subj:   Re: Place of Performance in English Lit Classes

[2]     From:   Susan C Oldrieve <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Wednesday, 6 Feb 2002 18:32:23 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.0339 Re: Place of Performance

[3]     From:   Nicole Imbracsio <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Wednesday, 06 Feb 2002 20:05:01 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.0339 Re: Place of Performance

[4]     From:   Paul E. Doniger <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Wednesday, 6 Feb 2002 20:03:30 -0500
        Subj:   SHK 13.0339 Re: Place of Performance

[5]     From:   Terence Hawkes <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Thursday, 7 Feb 2002 06:02:30 -0500
        Subj:   SHK 13.0339 Re: Place of Performance


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Evelyn Gajowski <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Wednesday, 6 Feb 2002 09:19:07 -0800 (PST)
Subject: 13.0327 Place of Performance in English Lit Classes
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.0327 Place of Performance in English Lit Classes

To Jay Johnson:

I, for one, incorporate performance into my (mostly upper-division, I'm
afraid) English courses in Shakespeare/Tragedies, Shakespeare/Comedies
and Histories, Gender and Renaissance Lit, and Intro to Theories and
Practices in the following ways:

(a) each student participates in a group performance or does a solo
performance of a part a dramatic text selected by him/her once during a
15-week semester (5% of grade, pass/fail)

(b) occasionally the class will participate in an impromptu acting out
of a scene on the first (*King Lear* 1.1) or last (*The Winter's Tale*
5.) day of study of a particular dramatic text

(c) students view a cinematic text outside of class in tandem with every
dramatic text studied, enabling us to devote the final class period of
four to analysis of performance (quizzes, 20% of grade, pass/fall)

(d) nearly every semester I am able to incorporate a live theatrical
production (Nevada Shakespeare in the Park; campus) of a dramatic text
into a syllabus in lieu of "(c)" above

I have never tried to perform an entire play in a class, though.

Ian McKellen's one-man show, *Acting Shakespeare*, which I participated
in as an audience member three times in SF, is what inspired me to
incorporate performance into my English courses -- first, at UC Santa
Cruz and now, here.

Evelyn Gajowski
University of Nevada, Las Vegas

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Susan C Oldrieve <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Wednesday, 6 Feb 2002 18:32:23 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 13.0339 Re: Place of Performance
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.0339 Re: Place of Performance

A theater colleague and I teach an upper level 4 credit Acting
Shakespeare class for undergraduates.  We give each student a major and
minor role, changing actors from act to act but otherwise trying to
stage as finished a production as we have time to do in 16 weeks.  The
exam period is used for the final production.

We've had problems in the past with Theater students who didn't think
they should have to write an interpretive essay on the play or do
anything but act, and with occasional non-theater people who have
dropped because of acute stage fright.  And the class has been really
intense and more work than our students typically do even for other
upper level classes. From our perspective the biggest problem (besides
whining students) is that the blocking takes weeks and we run out of
time for character development.

This fall we'll do our 7th class (we teach it every other year) and we
are redesigning the course to try to alleviate the burden for students
and to focus more on character development than on learning blocking.
The first two weeks will be introduction and auditions.  We'll then cast
the students and spend the next 6 weeks discussing the play (Much Ado
this year) scene by scene. Each student will have to do an oral
presentation suggesting interpretation and blocking for one of the
scenes, read 5 scholarly articles on his or her character, and write a
paper explaining how his or her characters contribute to the play's
super objective.  During this time, my theater colleague will pre-block
the play, incorporating the students' ideas as he sees fit.

Then we'll spend the last 8 weeks of class time in rehearsal (MWF
2:40-3:55 with 2 Saturdays for dress and tech rehearsals. Each student
will be responsible to help with some aspect of production.  Finally,
we'll call together all our family and friends and perform the play for
them.

How well the class works depends a great deal on the particular students
involved, but past students have been significantly influenced by the
course and remember it as one of the most challenging and exciting of
their college experiences. I personally find it extremely exciting to be
inside one of Shakespeare's plays and always discover new insights about
the particular play and Shakespeare's craft in general.  I hope the
students do, as well, and what I am sure of is that after the course
Shakespeare has been demystified for them and they feel much more
confident reading and seeing his works.

Susan Oldrieve
Baldwin-Wallace College

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Nicole Imbracsio <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Wednesday, 06 Feb 2002 20:05:01 -0500
Subject: 13.0339 Re: Place of Performance
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.0339 Re: Place of Performance

I have strong background in theatre and as a teacher of college-level
English Literature classes (esp. Shakespeare), I find performance in the
classroom invaluable.

I understand David Wallace's problem of incorporating performance
difficult with class size and time... however, there are countless ways
that you can get your students to "think towards performance" without
actually getting on their feet and saying lines (which can also receive
a lot of resistance by high school students) or providing props, etc.
The most successful that I have used, and this goes for classes that can
incorporate performance as well, is to have students break into small
groups (of say, 5 students) and pass out a handout that tells that that
they are a production company for a stage version of whatever play
you're reading.  Their group consists of a costume designer, a lighting
designer, a director, a music director, etc.  etc. Their job is to map
out what the audience of the play sees BEFORE the first line is spoken.
They also must answer "what inspires the first line?" Meaning, is their
any action, event, sound, etc. that motivates the first character to
speak. They should also think "what happens in the rest of the play to
justify this vision of the stage?" Aka... is anything foreshadowed.

This can get pretty fun because students are also asked to cast actors
in the roles and think of what they would be wearing, the music, etc.
So the exercise plays on various levels of interest.

Then the groups share their "vision" with the class as a whole.  I ask
students what the mood of their production is, why they decided on such
a vision, etc.

We have a few laughs and some pretty creative stuff gets thrown around.
The exercise helps student to understand that reading a play is not just
about words on a page... but about imagination, of thinking for
yourself.  This exercise also puts the material into the hands of the
students, rather than having me up there saying "This is what is
happening... this is what Juliet is doing... this is what this
means....blah blah" Gives them some authority of the text.

What I find most difficult in teaching students Shakespeare (and
everything for that matter) is their resistance to creativity. I find
that my students (and this is getting worse as time goes on) have such a
difficult time of envisioning things FOR THEMSELVES. They seem so used
to having images and ideas GIVEN to them and provided for them, that
they don't know how to do it themselves.

For me, I have discovered that this mental block comes from the fact
that a LOT of high school English classes have students watch a movie of
whatever play they are reading alongside their reading.  This is
severely damaging in that students no longer can imagine that play
beyond what they have already seen. Their creative authority is usurped,
so to speak.

(A suggested alternative: rather than looking at a single adaptation of
Shakespeare, look a the same scene (aka, Romeo and Juliet death scene)
from three different movies (Zeffirelli, West Side Story, and Luhrmann)
and ANALYZE the differences. )

Have people encountered the same challenge of breaking the brain
blockade?  How do you deal with it?  Do you think it's just a generation
thing... or is there something else going on here?

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Paul E. Doniger <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Wednesday, 6 Feb 2002 20:03:30 -0500
Subject: Re: Place of Performance
Comment:        SHK 13.0339 Re: Place of Performance

In addition to teaching English, I run the theatre program at our small
high school. I, too, have a mixed variety of skills and behaviors among
my students, although none of my theatre students are English L2 (we
have a very small non-native English population in my district). In my
advanced acting class, I teach a unit on performing Shakespeare -- we
read and work on one play for a number of weeks; my play of choice is
usually _12th Night_ (for a variety of reasons, not the least of which
is that I love the play to distraction). The students do a cold reading
of the play on their feet, on stage (I often read with them, both as a
model and as a way to fill in missing parts); after each scene we
discuss the plot, characters, language, et al, but we also talk about
the experience of reading "on our feet." Then the students pick roles
and scenes to work up to performance standard and we rehearse, give
feed-back, etc. The final performance is graded as an exam (I created a
rubric, which I explain in advance).

By the end of the process, I invariably have a handful of students who
have not only learned a lot, but have developed a high level of
confidence and had a grand time rising to a tough challenge. If my
English classes afforded the luxury of so much time and space for this
sort of thing, I wouldn't limit the practice my acting students.

Paul E. Doniger

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Terence Hawkes <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Thursday, 7 Feb 2002 06:02:30 -0500
Subject: Re: Place of Performance
Comment:        SHK 13.0339 Re: Place of Performance

Laura Blankenship urges her students to read 'A Thousand Acres' in the
belief that 'Perhaps there's some way to encourage them to use the novel
to help "fill in" the details of King Lear.'  But to reduce the play to
the level of a novel, with its commitment to leaden-footed 'character
development', closes off exactly those performative dimensions of the
play which her classes are committed to explore. As for a project which
aims to ' ''fill in'' the details of King Lear', only the revelation
that such probings 'sometimes inspire stunned silence' from her students
gives cause for optimism. I'm with them.

T. Hawkes

_______________________________________________________________
S H A K S P E R: The Global Shakespeare Discussion List
Hardy M. Cook, 
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 
The S H A K S P E R Webpage <http://www.shaksper.net>

DISCLAIMER: Although SHAKSPER is a moderated discussion list, the
opinions expressed on it are the sole property of the poster, and the
editor assumes no responsibility for them.
 

©2011 Hardy Cook. All rights reserved.