WORKSHOPS—WITHOUT THE “WORK!”
By A Noise Within
March 10, 2015
There’s a reason we call our student programs “Classics Live!”: we want plays to jump off the page and into kids’ minds and hearts.
Live theatre is the hallmark of our program, which now serves nearly 12,000 students each year. But we also bring our teaching artists and resident artists into schools to provide tailored in-school workshops where the students are provided with real-world theatrical insight. These pre- or post-show in-school student workshops are a part of ANW’s mission and help our teaching artists and RA’s integrate their work into the community. Through these workshops, students and teachers help each other while also bridging the gaps in arts education in schools.
“Playing with extreme tactics helped bring the scenes to life in ways they never expected,” said Jeremy Rabb, a resident artist and teaching artist after a recent workshop. By taking the mystery out of the text and bringing the words to life through on-their-feet theatrical activities, students engage with the stories and characters in ways they haven’t before. This allows the students to appreciate the work, giving them a leg up in their future scholarly endeavors.
Jeremy Rabb, RA and teaching artist, had the following insight after a recent workshop:
“We had a lot of fun working with the freshmen at The Thacher School, exploring Shakespeare’s text from an actor’s point of view. By delving into different love scenes from both Romeo & Juliet and The Tempest, the students discovered just how much body language can inform the relationship between characters and help complement the text. One student even marveled at the end of class how he now understood just how important it is to see Shakespeare’s plays performed rather than just read.”
These workshops are summed up well in the students’ observations. By taking the mystery out of the text and bringing the words to life through on-their-feet theatrical activities, students engage with the stories and characters in a way they haven’t before. This allows students to appreciate the work and the canon, giving them a leg up in their future scholarly endeavors.
Another resident artist, Stephen Rockwell, also participates in our outreach workshops. He believes, “Educational programs are an essential part of A Noise Within’s mission and we are continuing that mission this spring with our on-going series of classes for young artists. Once again, I have the great pleasure and good fortune of teaching the Shakespeare Workshop for Homeschoolers which is an exciting adventure that introduces young actors to the joys and challenges of performing the Bard’s work. Each session we choose a different Shakespeare play to focus on, and the students work on scenes and monologues from the play. In the past we have investigated comedies, tragedies and romances. In a recent session the students expressed an interest in ‘killing or being killed’ so we worked on Julius Caesar.
This spring,” he continues, “we will focus, for the first time, on an English history play, Richard III. The students are given numerous tools to work with and skills to develop through the use of theatre games and exercises. We discuss text analysis and vocabulary and we explore the historical context of Shakespeare’s theatre. The class culminates in a presentation of the classroom work for family and friends. The young actors who sign up for the workshop are lively, engaged and enormously creative and the class is a stimulating, educational, challenging experience, as well as a whole lot of fun.
The workshop is a place where students can find their voice,” Stephen says. “I’ve had the tremendously rewarding experience of seeing young people transform from shy and nervous to outgoing and confident. It and also provides students with the opportunity to form lasting relationships with other fun and creative homeschooled students.”
The Shakespeare Workshop for Homeschoolers and Young Actors Workshop are open to all young actors ages 10-18 and Summer with Shakespeare is open to ages 6-18.
For more information on this program or our in-school workshops, please contact Education Director Alicia Green at email@example.com or 626.356.3104.