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Home :: Archive :: 2002 :: January ::
Re: Are they too stupid? UPDATE
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.0202  Sunday, 27 January 2002

[1]     From:   Brandon Toropov <
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        Date:   Friday, 25 Jan 2002 10:37:40 -0800 (PST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.0185 Are they too stupid? UPDATE

[2]     From:   Alan J. Sanders <
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        Date:   Friday, 25 Jan 2002 15:13:32 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.0185 Are they too stupid? UPDATE

[3]     From:   L. Swilley <
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        Date:   Saturday, 26 Jan 2002 15:31:03 +0600 (CST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.0185 Are they too stupid? UPDATE


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Brandon Toropov <
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Date:           Friday, 25 Jan 2002 10:37:40 -0800 (PST)
Subject: 13.0185 Are they too stupid? UPDATE
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.0185 Are they too stupid? UPDATE

Maybe someone has already suggested this, but have you considered
casting the more outgoing students to read brief excerpts from the
plays, then discussing the scene with the class?

Brandon

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Alan J. Sanders <
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Date:           Friday, 25 Jan 2002 15:13:32 -0500
Subject: 13.0185 Are they too stupid? UPDATE
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.0185 Are they too stupid? UPDATE

Marcia:

I can definitely say that I am very interested to hear how it goes.  I
am currently directing "Romeo & Juliet" for a small community theatre in
North Georgia.  Against the advice of many, I made the conscious
decision to "teach" Shakespeare along the way.  After all, this isn't a
professional group of actors with years of Shakespeare training under
their belts.  So, we spend the first half of each rehearsal, sitting in
a semi-circle and we read that's nights scenes.  I have each actor read
their part, then stop and paraphrase in contemporary speech, what their
character has just said.  It was very tedious at first.  No one likes to
sound like they don't know an answer to something.  So, much like you on
your first class, I had to pull the questions and answers out of them.
When they got it right, I would give as much positive reinforcement as I
could.  When they were way off, I would say something to the effect,
"that's one way to look at it, but I think in the context here, you are
saying . . . "  It is very tedious.  But, after only a handful of
rehearsals, the actors are getting better and better and are preparing
more for each night's rehearsal.

The second half of the rehearsal is spent on stage blocking and talking
about pace, focus, and intention.  It's almost amazing how quickly
someone can begin to feel the language flow naturally through them once
they have taken the time to understand the meaning of each scene.  I am
enjoying watching the cast sensing the stage direction built into their
own lines and the lines of those around them.  As one of my actors said
on the first day, "Shakespeare done poorly is a awful, but Shakespeare
done well beats just about anything else you could be doing!"

Anyway, please keep the updates coming.  It's great to read all of the
myriad discussions going on simultaneously yet all centered around one
common thread.  It's truly awesome.

Alan

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           L. Swilley <
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Date:           Saturday, 26 Jan 2002 15:31:03 +0600 (CST)
Subject: 13.0185 Are they too stupid? UPDATE
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.0185 Are they too stupid? UPDATE

I suggest to Ms. Eppich-Harris that she should assume that the students
have read nothing that she intends to discuss in class. That is
especially true of the works of Shakespeare. Instead, read aloud (or
have students read aloud) the first few exchanges in the first scene of
the play. Make sure they understand the words - have them translate the
remarks into modern English to ascertain that.  Ask them what can be
determined about the characters and situations just from that bit of
information. Ask how they would have the actor or actress read the lines
- that is, what words would be emphasized, and why.  Now, have ready a
video tape of a production of the play; play those first exchanges and
turn off the video.  Ask: how does this differ from what you students
have suggested for "your" actors?  What is this director/interpreter
emphasizing, if anything, and what will be any consequences of the
director's choices of emphasis?  Proceed now with larger "chunks" of the
play, alternating between class discussion and video presentation of
those parts.

This works, and it interests and engages the most lunch-comatosed
students, be they very stones.

And don't be surprised to find that a few students can't read fluently
(which should give some idea of the problem to be faced.).

     L. Swilley

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