Shakespeare for middle school students
Monday, December 20, 2010
Come January, I'm going to work with my students on Renaissance (and medieval) ornamentation and design - repeat patterns, motifs, emblems, crests, etc. This will all culminate in a parade and a race (like the Palio in Italy) some time in April.
The community theatre group holds a Shakespearean festival in April - school groups perform short (15 minute) summarized versions of various plays.
So I talked to my Advanced Art class about possibly finishing our T shirts, flags, banners, etc. in time for the Shakespeare festival, and doing some kind of performance. They readily agreed. Then one boy - the kid who does amazing backflips, was one of our best ballroom dancers, and is just generally a fun kid - said, "Well, let's do Romeo and Juliet."
Now, I know this kid, he was in Basic Art with me last year. I know he has a girlfriend (his dance partner). I also know he has several much older brothers (who have a music group, and hordes of groupies).
So I just looked at him and said, "Well, it's only going to be this class doing our performance."
He looked around the room (at the girls), shook his head, and said, "Okay, never mind."
I just had to laugh at him. It was all about the love scenes for him. Which was very cute.
I'm favoring Midsummer Night's Dream. He could backflip across the stage and play the part of Puck. We could do a lot of marching around and flag waving, staging mostly a pageant. Then, students who want a part could read a summary of their character's story, using Shakespearean English. Sort of a cross between performance art and readers' theatre. With maybe some twinkle lights as our stage set. Because for me, it's all about the design, pattern, emblems, motif - that's the art part they're learning, plus fabric design techniques and media. And I know little about acting. To make it easier for the kids to perform, and for me to coach, I think we need to go minimalist. But with a lot of color and pageantry.