How We’re Celebrating Shakespeare 400

Shakespeare

This year marks 400 years since Shakespeare’s death. A huge cultural initiative has been running for the past year in all parts of the world to remind people of and to celebrate the significance of this great man’s work. I thought it was important that we do something at school to acknowledge this also. As with the many ideas I have they get big and out of hand and I really need to scale them back.

This year I found a simple way to celebrate all these fabulous works that I thought I would share with you. Perhaps you might like to do something similar or share your ideas/celebrations in the comments.

We started with a short speech at assembly and I showed a really lovely 6 minute clip from the National Theatre about their performances of Shakespeare over the years. It was probably slightly better suited to the senior kids than the juniors but I still think it captured the essence and beauty of his works.

At the assembly I asked for anyone who would like to present a short scene, monologue or duologue as part of the ongoing celebrations. We have our assemblies fortnightly so afterwards I fielded a few offers to present and I lined up a short five minute item for each fortnightly assembly. It is quite reliant on the kids doing most of the development but they do have to show me their ideas/performance prior to presenting it at assembly. So far we’ve got a sonnet reading and a monologue from Julius Caesar. We only have about 4-5 assemblies a term so hopefully I’ll get a couple more before the end. If not, I’m glad that I got a couple with which to continue the celebrations.

How are you celebrating? Share them in the comments below. 

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The World’s Biggest Theatre Ensemble’s Debut!

I’ve posted about the World Theatre Video and the World Theatre Day projects before (here and here) and today I wanted to share with you our first video for the project. Performers were given one of the hardest monologues in the English language – Hamlet’s “To Be or Not To Be” monologue from William Shakespeare’s Hamlet.

Already I can see huge improvements from our initial video back in March in terms of performance quality and cinematography. All the performers have done a tremendous job.

I have been presenting at a number of TeachMeets in Sydney spruiking our project in the hope of getting more schools involved. It’s definitely getting a lot of positive feedback so hopefully more young performers will get involved.

This month, November, we are looking at Edgar Allan Poe’s famous poem The Raven. It is another challenging piece so the more schools we have involved, the more we can share the challenge of performing each of the stanzas.

For more details please visit worldtheatrevideo.com

You can also share and use the Slide Share presentation I have been taking round to schools to promote our project.

Enjoy the video.

The World’s Biggest Theatre Ensemble

I am really excited about this new project I am apart of.

It’s called World Theatre Video. You can check out the website here.

I’m excited about it for a number of reasons. Most importantly though, I’m excited about the way in which it was created.

I’ve posted before about the enormous benefit of starting a PLN (Professional Learning Network for the uninitiated). I cannot stress how isolated I felt in the classroom for so many years, desperate to connect with someone who understood how I was feeling, what I was going through and what I needed.

Now, I will have had my PLN for almost three years this coming January. This blog and now the Facebook page are both products of me starting a PLN. The motivation it has provided me, the support and encouragement it has offered me, has kept me engaged in my profession as a teacher. It is always challenging me to try something new.

It’s a place in which I feel ideas, as lofty and undeveloped as they may seem, are not scoffed at but encouraged and may actually eventuate.

Things, such as this project, World Theatre Video.

Earlier in the year, I made a rather fleeting request on Twitter to see if any drama teachers would be willing to collaborate with me on a World Theatre Day project. You can read about what happened here.

Due to that tweet and everything that happened in its wake, I have had the pleasure of meeting both @MoAsh245 and @edtech4theatre in real life.

It was a rather exciting moment. To connect from half way around the world and another state entirely is a really remarkable thing.

The organic nature in which it all came about was a wonderful thing to be a part of. It made me think how easy it is to connect with those that are willing from anywhere in the world not just from your region or immediate community of schools. Why do we have to keep it to our immediate environments?

In reflecting on that time it was a fun, simple project that engaged my students. Thankfully they were all willing and excited to be seen by students around the world. It made theatre and their own performance real to them. It made them accountable. I also think it is a fabulous way to expose drama and to celebrate the awesomeness that is drama teaching and live theatre.

I’m proud of Nick for expanding the project and incorporating his knowledge of Google Apps to make it a credible, worthwhile project that demonstrates how creative and tech savvy drama teachers can be. That we don’t need to be entering into million dollar software deals. That there are free resources at our fingertips if we just leave the bureaucracy and red tape out of it. Also, it shows how well we can collaborate, particularly virtually! That technology is not something we are afraid of embracing as we move into developing 21st Century learners and the face of theatre as we know it.

Many people still scoff at PLN’s and the use of social networking out of work hours to expand and develop their knowledge of teaching. It does move at an extremely fast pace but I guarantee that I wouldn’t be half as knowledgeable about education “stuff” if it wasn’t for my PLN. It makes me feel that sometimes schools are just so slow and really behind the eight ball. It really is up to the individual teacher to make 21st Century learning happen in their classroom despite the system and the people who are happy to ride along in cruise control in their old beat up Holden. If you catch my drift…

I encourage you to get involved in this project. It is fun. It poses so many questions as to the validity of social media and technology in our classrooms and in theatre as well as the possibilities for it in the future. This may be the opportunity some of your students need or are looking for. It may be what you have been needing or looking for.

Photo Credit: Βethan via Compfight cc

Happy Birthday Shakespeare

I was skimming through my Twitter feed over the weekend and realised a rather important individual’s birthday was coming up this week. I did a bit of a Google search and found out that some pretty big celebrating happens in Stratford-Upon-Avon in the lead up to Shakespeare’s birthday. You can check it out here. I thought I’d share some cool clips I use to teach MacBeth (my favourite) but I thought I’d also ask: how do you incorporate Shakespeare into your drama classroom? What have been some memorable moments? Happy Birthday Will.

You might also like to check out:

BBC’s Shakespeare’s Animated Tales (MacBeth)

and/or

Video SparkNotes (MacBeth)