Tuesday, September 6, 2011

On Directing Much Ado About Nothing at an Elementary School

Jones, Keith. "The Immeasurable Rewards of Directing Shakespeare in a Grade School." Making a Scene: Shakespeare in the Classroom. 6 September 2011. Folger Shakespeare Library, 2011.
Having directed two grade-school productions of Shakespeare plays, I naturally count myself the definitive expert in the field.

And, naturally, by “definitive expert,” I mean “dedicated amateur.”

It was in that light that I agreed to participate in the Folger Shakespeare Library’s “Teacher to Teacher” program. In essence, I wanted to encourage other amateurs to take the risk of directing Shakespeare in elementary schools.

You can hear what I said on the topic here:

And you can read a more extensive account of “what this amateur learned from directing Shakespeare in a grade school” on the Folger Education blog.

Finally, you can hear what one student had to say about one part of the experience in the Folger Shakespeare Library’s “Student to Student” segment. She addresses the issue of whether reading or performing Shakespeare is preferable:

Links: The Folger Education Blog.


Papa Pantaloon said...

Kudos to Bardfilm for having attracted the attention of the Folger Shakespeare Library. and to 5th grader Margaret Jones for being selected to make the first student-to-student Folger video. Having personally attended the first two RiverSide School Shakespeare productions, I would say that passion and patience pays off. Had I not seen it with my own eyes, I would not have believed that grade school students could be a credible troupe of Shakespearean players. But that is what they were! Folger rightly seizes the opportunity to use their experience to inspire and encourage others.

Papa Pantaloon said...

I was privileged to attend the opening of Much Ado at the world renown Guthrie Theater last Saturday night. Before the performance, the director appeared on stage to thank us all for coming and to comment on the crucial role of pre-review audiences in tweaking the production. I noticed a similar phenomenon in the grade school production between dress rehearsal, matinee, and evening performance. The RiverSide players were keenly attuned to audience reaction, and it showed in their becoming ever more confident in their presentation. Nothing like live theater!

Christopher said...

Nothing like live theater!...
I'm BYU student studying Shakespeare this year. It has proven very interesting to see really how much Shakespeare was meant for the stage! As one reads the plays there is a huge dynamic that is almost unobtainable, just because it was meant to be watched and not read. I have had several occasions to view plays about which i have read, the most recent was at the Cedar City Shakespeare Festival The Winter's Tale, the minor roles of that play that i had glanced over almost stole the show. I agree, nothing like live theater--for the good or bad!

I'm currently studying Much Ado about Nothing...any insights or comments as to the purpose or themes of this play that you might have?

kj said...

Thanks for the comment, Christopher. It certainly opens eyes to be involved in a production of any sort.

This time through teaching Much Ado, we've paid particular attention to the theme of deception. There's deception left, right, and center in the play, and we admire some of it and loathe some of it. It's intriguing to consider what we're meant to learn through that theme!

Take care!


Christopher said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Christopher said...

Reporting is a theme or idea that i was looking at. How do reports change the way we look at a situation or person? As one looks at the play we see countless reports, one could almost make the argument reports drive the play. I love the mix of these two ideas, reporting with deception, for it is in the report that the deception was brought on.

If you are interested i was trying to comment on this subject, i would like your thoughts if you have time...


kj said...

That's a marvelous theme, particularly as the reporting of the plan Claudio and Don Pedro develop for wooing hero is wrong every single time it's reiterated throughout the entire play.


Bardfilm is normally written as one word, though it can also be found under a search for "Bard Film Blog." Bardfilm is a Shakespeare blog (admittedly, one of many Shakespeare blogs), and it is dedicated to commentary on films (Shakespeare movies, The Shakespeare Movie, Shakespeare on television, Shakespeare at the cinema), plays, and other matter related to Shakespeare (allusions to Shakespeare in pop culture, quotes from Shakespeare in popular culture, quotations that come from Shakespeare, et cetera).

Unless otherwise indicated, quotations from Shakespeare's works are from the following edition:
Shakespeare, William. The Riverside Shakespeare. 2nd ed. Gen. ed. G. Blakemore Evans. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1997.
All material original to this blog is copyrighted: Copyright 2008-2039 (and into perpetuity thereafter) by Keith Jones.

The very instant that I saw you did / My heart fly to your service; there resides, / To make me slave to it; and, for your sake, / Am I this patient [b]log-man.

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