Visionbox Studio Theatre invites you to join our Saving Shakespeare teacher training seminar.
The Lost Art of Teaching Shakespeare
In most high schools today, Shakespeare is taught as literature, typically in an English class. Students read one or more of Shakespeare’s plays and then discuss and write about themes, imagery, plot, etc.
Shakespeare, however, wrote plays, not novels. In order to be fully appreciated, his work must be read aloud and ultimately performed. That requires students to learn the rules of scansion that govern Shakespeare’s poetry, and to understand the role of articulated thought in Elizabethan theatre – which is unlike the way characters express themselves in contemporary theatre, not to mention other literature and most film and TV with which students are already familiar.
The proper teaching of Shakespeare owes much to John Barton (1928-2018) of the Royal Shakespeare Company. Barton was among the greatest teachers and directors of Shakespeare. His book Playing Shakespeare (based on his nine-episode TV series of the same name) remains foundational for the most effective teaching of Shakespeare today. Unfortunately, most high school teachers tasked with teaching Shakespeare have never had any exposure to Barton’s approach.
Saving Shakespeare in Colorado High Schools
Reinvigorating the teaching of Shakespeare requires, first and foremost, knowing how to go about it. Colorado is fortunate to have a resident expert in Jennifer McCray Rincon.
Ms. Rincon earned her B.A. in Theatre Studies from Yale College, and her M.F.A. in Directing from the Yale School of Drama (where one of the program’s three years was entirely devoted to Shakespeare). After Yale, Ms. Rincon was the Touring Director for The Acting Company in New York City, staging Broadway-level productions of Shakespeare on tour with actors from Juilliard and Yale. Ms. Rincon then became Head of Acting at the DCPA’s National Theatre Conservatory, where she taught Shakespeare to graduate students in their second year of training, directed at least one Shakespeare production each season, and personally worked with John Barton during his DCPA residency. As the DCPA moved toward winding down the National Theatre Conservatory, Ms. Rincon opened her own acting studio in Denver, Visionbox Studio, where she has continued to teach Shakespeare (among other playwrights) for more than 10 years now, still adhering to Barton’s approach."
-There will be both lectures and interactive work with teachers on specific texts led by Jennifer McCray Rincon and the Visionbox Ensemble. Teachers will then have the opportunity to actively participate through group text analysis, reading aloud, and writing.
Seminars will include the following:
4. Articulated Thought: the “Playing” or Acting Shakespeare; What are some of the differences as compared to contemporary theater literature?
5. Scene Study
6. The Five Questions
7. Solo Shakespeare projects
TThere will be both lectures and interactive work with teachers on specific texts led by Jennifer McCray Rincon and the Visionbox Ensemble. Teachers will then have the opportunity to actively participate through group text analysis, reading aloud, and writing.
Teachers will leave with curriculum outlines for:
1. Choosing material: Sonnet, soliloquy, scenes
2. Choosing a play: Approach to reading the play, casting, and rehearsal
3. Background Materials: Playing Shakespeare by John Barton and films of specific plays
4. Solo Shakespeare: outlines and instructions
5. The Five Questions: handouts
Workshop dates & time: Saturday March 4th 9-4pm, Saturday April 15th 9-4pm (1 hour lunch break, meal provided)
Location: Bishop Machebeuf High School, 458 Uinta Way, Denver, CO 80230
Price: $150 for all day