Actor, Audience, & Architecture: A Reflection on Teaching Shakespeare Through Performance at the Globe Theatre
"Oh, what an excellent thing this learning is!"
~Gremio, The Taming of the Shrew 1.2
"Teaching Shakespeare Through Performance" at Shakespeare's Globe Theatre in London was a 3-week immersion where 26 educators from across the country encountered Shakespeare's plays the way they were meant to be experienced: staged and seen, not read. Outside of the classroom, we saw Artistic Director Emma Rice's inaugural season: A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM, THE TAMING OF THE SHREW, AND MACBETH on stage at The Globe, and THE FLYING LOVERS OF VITEBSK in the candlelit Wanamaker Playhouse, a reconstruction of a Jacobean theatre. We also had a little extra time to see plays in the West End, among them, Kenneth Branagh's ROMEO AND JULIET.
Inside the classroom, we became students, taking classes with master teachers, most of whom were collaborating on the summer's productions. We studied text, history, voice, singing, movement, costume, history, historical dance, and we rehearsed scenes from A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM, taking ensemble classes to help us prepare for one performance on stage at The Globe, and one and one performance on stage at the Wanamaker.
A 3-pronged philosophy underpins the teaching philosophy at the Globe: Actor, audience, architecture. And an optional 4th (not for use in the classroom): alcohol.performance on stage at the Wanamaker.
Before I attempt to capture the heady spirit of this past summer, I first want to say, that the Cleveland branch of the English-Speaking Union should be especially proud of the north coast connection to the south bank. In between classes, many in our BUSS group decided to visit an exhibit at The Globe. It was here that we learned about its founder, the American actor, Sam Wanamaker, and that it was his experience performing in a Shakespeare play in a half-size replica of the Globe at the 1937 Great Lakes Exposition in Cleveland, shaped his vision of a reconstructed "wooden O" in the borough of Southwark, just blocks away from the original site.
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