Last week, I participated in a Teaching Shakespeare Mini-Institute with the Folger Shakespeare Library. If you ever have the opportunity to participate in one of Folger’s institutes, seize the opportunity. You will not only learn great practical methods for teaching Shakespeare and learn about Shakespeare and his plays, but you will also develop professional ties to amazing educators from all different backgrounds.
Much of the Teaching Shakespeare Mini-Institute’s methodology will be familiar to teachers who use Folger’s popular Shakespeare Set Free series. Our focus was on Romeo and Juliet and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. We began the first four days with a lecture from either Barry Gaines, professor at the University of New Mexico, or Christy Desmet, professor at the University of Georgia. We also had curriculum sessions twice a day, seminar discussions, and performance classes taught by Laura Cole from the New American Shakespeare Tavern and Caleen Sinnette Jennings from Folger. Our culminating project was performance of a scene on the stage of the Shakespeare Tavern, which was an amazing experience. Here is a video of my group’s take on the scene when the Mechanicals in MND are receiving their parts from Peter Quince.
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We all went to the Shakespeare Tavern to see Laura as Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing, which was a great experience. The actors were kind enough to stay late for a Q&A with all of us, and the Tavern was generous with great seats. If you live in the Atlanta area (or even just Georgia or nearby) and have never been to the Tavern, do yourself a favor and go. You will not be disappointed. Laura was brilliant, and the rest of the cast was also a delight.
I had an amazing time, learned a lot, and made new friends. I am still processing everything I learned, so please be patient as posts about the experience will come out as I think it through and make connections.
Here’s a picture of all of us on the stage at the Shakespeare Tavern. Click the image to see a larger version.