The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.0265  Wednesday, 30 January 2002

From:           Jay Johnson <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 29 Jan 2002 16:49:57 -0700
Subject: 13.0203 Re: High School and College Productions
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.0203 Re: High School and College Productions

Allan J. Saunders wrote,

<<It has been a long-standing belief in our American public educational
system to set the bar lower and lower each year.  There is pressure to
that educators are putting forth higher test scores and passing more
students and instead of challenging students to rise to their potential,
is easier to succumb to the lowest common denominator.

I think you will be greatly surprised by the resilience and adaptability
most youth (most people, for that matter) when they are placed in an
environment in which excellence is demanded.  <snip>   If you act like
students can't handle the full-length text of a show, then they won't.>>

and he advises me to

<<Try an experiment in which you spend 4-6 months preparing for a
full-length production of a more commonly read Shakespeare play>>

Thank you for your response to my recent posting, but I don't think
you've grasped the essence of my position.  It's not that I don't
believe students can handle a full-length production; I am sure that
they can; it's simply that, because of curricular timetabling at my
college, there is not the time to do it.  I don't have 4-6 months ever.

My college's schedule is arranged on the semester system, so I have new
students every 13-14 weeks.  The question is: how do I fit real
performance into that time-frame without it hijacking the entire
course.  My "concise acting versions" have nothing to with  "dumbing
down" Shakespeare or with slackening standards or with my inability to
expect excellence from my students.  These plays are not
Shakespeare-Lite; they are Shakespeare-Short; and they represent at
attempt to do some real performance within the confines of a 13-14 week
English literature (not drama) course.

Jay Johnson
Medicine Hat College
Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada

PS:  Click here for concise acting version of "Twelfth Night":

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