I’m afraid that the past three days were so full that there wasn’t really time to blog. Wednesday and Thursday night I left The Globe around 10:30pm, without a huge amount of breaks. I’m a little overwhelmed about trying to relay all of that information, so I’m going to focus on Wednesday and try to catch up this weekend.
Wednesday began with a “Lively Action Practice” with Globe Education Practitioners. Basically, we got to see what we were learning in action. I watched Susan teach Macbeth to a group of 11-12 year olds. What was great was that it wasn’t going to plan. Students were a little disengaged or really shy to participate. To me, that was far more beneficial to watch than a session that just went perfectly. The reality is that things don’t go perfectly every time, and observing someone navigating that was incredibly valuable.
Just as an overview of the activities that Susan did:
(1) She started with some acting games: sending a clap around the circle, and a variation of that where they did it with their eyes closed. I thought the variation was interesting in terms of team work and collaboration. She also had them do a second game where when she told them to go they walked, stop they stopped, stomp they stomped, and clapped they clapped. She then slowly began mixing this up. (So, for example, when she said “go” they would stop and when she said “stop” they would go. This got them up and active, and got their brains going.
(2) She then placed students into pairs. Person A was told that they really wanted B to do something (give them money, go away, kill the king of Scotland–remember this is for Macbeth). Person B was told that they really, really don’t want to do it. A needed to use as many tactics as possible for B to do what they wanted them to do, with the catch that the only word they could use is “yes.” The only word B could use in response was “no.” They could use gestures, voice, body language.
After letting students play with this, she had a few volunteers demonstrate what they did. She had the other students identify the types of techniques that they were using to either convince or deny their partners, asking them, “What is he doing as a verb?”
She then did a variation of this using lines from the text. A would say, “When you durst do it, then you were a man.” B’s response was “We will proceed no further in this business.” Prior to letting kids loose, she unpacked the language with them. Again, volunteers were asked to demonstrate what they did.
(3) She gave the students the scene between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth that the above quotes came from. It was about 1 page of texts. The students read the scenes in pairs, and afterwards they unpacked it as a group. She asked them first to tell her what was happening in the scene. Then they went through the lines dissecting it. Once the lines have been explained and dissected, they went through the scene again. She ended the session with a pair showing what they had been working on.
What I’ve noticed about everyone at the Globe is their vocabulary: Everything is so very positive. They’ll tell you, “Thank you for that offer” and “Brilliant!” after a response. When they are asking a question they might say, “What does this mean? Someone please be brave and give it a try.” It’s lead me to think a lot about the vocabulary that I use with students. You can create such a safe environment for people to work in simply by altering your vocabulary and being positive. The way that Margo explained it today is that in order to progress, you have to feel a little success.
Our day on Wednesday ended with a four hour rehearsal. My group will be performing 3.1 of Taming of the Shrew, and I will be playing Baptista. For this first rehearsal, Jo Howarth got us up and moving first and then gradually inserted lines to get us comfortable with the language in our scene.
-We walked and used the space.
-We continued walking but high-fived each other (saying a line to each other when that happened)
-We walked and would lean against each other, saying another line.
-We held hands and leaned back, finding a balancing point…and again would say a line to each other.
She used lines throughout the scene from various characters, and basically told the story of the scene. It got us up and moving, we learned a few lines, and we started to get really comfortable with each other as a cast.
Our second activity was to actually look at the script. We split our edited script into sections (based on entrances and exits). We read through each section and then worked together to name the scene. When this was done, we created a tableaux for each scene (so that we would have a physical memory of what happened in it). We went back through the scenes and picked one line from each section that summarized the essence of the scene. We then combined the tableaux with the line.
I think this activity could definitely be used in my classroom. It’s a great way for students to physicalize what is happening in the scene. It also gets them to work with the same piece of text in multiple readings.
Our day ended with watching the Globe’s performance of Taming of the Shrew. I loved it! We were groundlings, and got to lean against the stage for the entire performance, looking up at the actors. Never have I been so close to the performance, and I think that’s really what made it a bit magical. You almost start to think that you’re in the action. This performance of Shrew was interesting because it was done by an all-female cast. What’s funny is that I actually forgot that they were women. They did a wonderful job sucking me into the story.
What I most liked, though, was how they played the ending. Shrew is a bit difficult for modern audiences, because of the gender issues brought up in the play. In it, Petruchio “tames” Kate by starving her, not letting her sleep, and making her look like a fool. As I watched the performance, I kept wondering how they were going to play the final scene where Kate is “tamed” and she gives a speech about how women need to be subservient to their husbands. This company turned this comedy into a tragedy. Kate is absolutely broken at the end. The reaction of the other characters is, “Oh, crap. Look what we’ve done.” They realize that they’ve lost something, and they’ll never get it back. You could hear a pin drop through the final scene, and when the characters left the stage the feeling was one of awkwardness. It’s hard to know what to do with that sort of an ending as an audience member. It was fantastic.