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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.
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    hum, I will ask DH. He was in such festivals in HS.
    2738 days ago
    This is very sweet!! Nothing like brothers to prepare you for teaching boys that age . . .

    And yes, I did get up at 2:30 am to see the lunar solstice eclipse (since it's not likely I'll be around for the next one . . .) and it was memorable: clear sky, tiny orange moon with a brilliant rim, backdrop of sparkling stars high above the snowy pine forest behind our house.
    2738 days ago
    I suspect he wanted to be Romeo, his GF Juliet (even tho she isn't in my class), and then they could kiss all they wanted.

    My three brothers all got in trouble in middle school for bringing scientific, sexually explicit material to school (as in the Kinsey report. Really. I kid you not.). So my brothers' exploits kind of prepared me for boys this age.
    2739 days ago
    We saw Midsummer's Night Dream when I was in middle school and I LOVED IT. I vote for this one.

    I do remember reading R&J outloud in English during 9th grade and the romantic scenes were, um, akward.
    2739 days ago
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