Thursday was a day that flew by with few breaks. Our day began at the Globe’s library. I want to see if I can arrange some time to head back there to really examine what they have. Besides books, you can view performances from every production the Globe has had since it was rebuilt, look through the archives, read journals… It’s only open two days a week, though, so getting back may be a bit problematic.
We met again with Margo to continue with our Globe Education Practice sessions. We worked with a scene from Macbeth (the same one that I observed students working on the day prior). Margo told us not to be afraid of editing the text for our students. They need to be successful with a small bit first. People learn in spirals. She had cut the scene so that Macbeth and Lady Macbeth get a single line each.
Each of us received one line, which we read aloud. We were then asked to pick one “powerful” word from the line to represent that line. That was shown around the circle. Next, we had to create a gesture that went with the word (and demonstrate those around the circle).
Margo lead us in the yes/no tactic activity (see the post prior to this one). She then had us read our line with a partner and determine what tactic Lady Macbeth and Macbeth were using in those two lines. We practiced them and then performed those two lines (in sequence) as a group.
Margo did these activities in a circle. I might do this with them lined up and facing each other. It might make it easier for my students to visually keep track of who is Lady Macbeth and who is Macbeth.
We practiced this again with one of Macbeth’s soliloquies. The soliloquy was split into sections. We chose powerful words, and then acted each section out as groups. Margo then told us to imagine that there was a line going down the center of our rehearsal room. The left side represented the idea that Macbeth won’t kill the kind; the right side represented that he will. Putting ourselves in the shoes of Macbeth at the end of the soliloquy that we just worked with, we needed to place ourselves on that line. I could see this final activity being great for debates and justifying answers using quotations.
In the afternoon, we met with Giles Block (whose new book I subsequently purchased). Giles is brilliant. Here are a few tidbits that I picked up from him:
-Verse is made up of two components: rhythm and line length (what one can easily say in one breath).
-When people say something that they hold dear, they often say it in iambic pentameter. Charles Dickens in a letter he wrote in 1844 discusses how he falls into blank verse when he is “very much in earnest.”
-Where the line ends is never arbitrary and always of interest. There is a reason why it is there. It captures speech. It is connected with breath. (You leave people with something of interest before breathing.)
-Trochees surprise us. The stress comes when we don’t expect it.
-It is the rhythm that conveys the emotion.
-We need to stop teaching that characters of “lower orders” speak prose and “higher orders” speak verse. These characters of “lower orders” are traditionally comedic. They use prose because the stresses fall unexpectedly and it runs faster.
-Verse carries the sound of sincerity. Prose is not sincere.
After a Q&A with the cast of Taming of the Shrew, we attended Tony Howard’s session on Shakespeare on Stage and Screen. He ran us through several film and television versions of the play, demonstrating how the gender issues presented in the play were treated differently over time. Fascinating!
Our day ended with rehearsal. Jo wanted us to think about how our characters related to each other in terms of status. She had us play a few games with playing cards to get us up and moving. With the first, we chose a card and walked into the room trying to project the amount of status we had (the King was the highest status; the ace the lowest). Others then had to guess what we had. A second incarnation of the game had us walk through the room not knowing what our card was. Others treated us accordingly. We had to guess what we had. We then arranged ourselves in a line from highest status to lowest status, arranging our characters.
The rest of the time was used to work through the scene. We used a ball to point towards who we were talking to, and gave the ball to them when we were asking a question. This really helped us determine whether we were talking to another character, a group of characters, or the audience.
Friday was a bit slower paced. We started with classes in Movement (with Glynn MacDonald) and voice (Sarah Case). Both did wonders for my self-esteem.
We spent the afternoon pouring over resources provided by the Globe. If you’re a teacher, you should head to the Globe’s website and check out their Adopt an Actor program, their Playing Shakespeare resources, and their archives of previous productions. You should also consider getting your hands on their Dynamic Learning editions of Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, or Much Ado About Nothing. They are fabulous.
I’ll try to post a bit about the weekend a little later today.