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Sophie spends her Summer with Shakespeare (& tells us all about it)

By A Noise Within
July 8, 2016

ANW’s Los Angeles County Arts Commission Education Intern Sophie Nelson (UC Berkeley ’16) tells us about her Summer with Shakespeare and what it’s like working at our annual summer camp for kids ages 6-18!

My name is Sophie Nelson and I am one of two education interns here at A Noise Within. It is my hope to become a teaching artist, so having the opportunity to observe teachers in the classroom has been absolutely incredible for me. What I really love about SWS is that the teachers here are focused on the process rather than the product. Students are allowed to make bold choices, to make mistakes. On the first day of each week, students are asked to come up with a class contract. They make promises to listen to one another and to support one another throughout the course of the week. This is the beginning of their ensemble work. Of course, there are some growing pains along the way. The students here are bright, funny, interesting individuals who have their own opinions and ways of working. Here, they learn that they don’t have to compromise their individuality to be in an ensemble. An ensemble is not an amorphous, shapeless thing, but rather a living, breathing ecosystem made up of many different parts. At SWS, they become accustomed to listening better, supporting their colleagues, and developing a generous and thoughtful outlook.

Things move quickly at Summer with Shakespeare. The pace is staggering, but somehow energizing. Each week has a different theme. Each day is filled to the brim with classes, both fun and challenging. Anywhere within the span of one to five weeks, students are able to traverse across different lands and times, gaining an understanding of myriads of characters and places and people – people who are different (and perhaps not so different) from themselves. In learning how to project and enunciate in voice class, they learn to speak clearly and effectively in daily life. In stage combat, they learn to support their ensemble, to be strong and steady scene partners. In movement, they learn to move through space confidently and with purpose. In their tech class, they learn to build the world that they are already creating on an emotional and intellectual level. In acting, they learn to create characters; to find the truth in moments that otherwise would remain stagnant on a page, were it not for performers who could bring them to life. I love the fact that students can elect to participate in anywhere from one to five weeks at SWS. The program is strong because it provides both depth and breadth of study. Week-one campers spend an entire five days studying the nuance of Shakespearean comedy, for example. If they are here for the whole five weeks, they are exposed to tragedy and romance as well.

Whenever I work at a school or a summer camp, my faith in the importance of an arts education is perennially renewed. Here, A Noise Within has created a camp experience where the arts are at the very forefront, where students can express themselves joyously. When students are exposed to the arts, they learn how to open their minds and hearts to possibility and to imagination. They learn to empathize with others, to speak their minds, and to listen to the minds of others. They develop skills and tools that will last them the rest of their lives, no matter what field they choose to go into.

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