Friday, May 24, 2013

All the world's a stage

Today my "middle school" students saw several plays in English, performed by the British traveling theater group White Horse Theatre. The sixth and seventh graders saw a play called My Cousin Charles and the eighth and ninth graders saw one called Two Gentleman, a modern adaption of the Shakespeare play The Two Gentlemen of Verona.

The theater group did very well presenting these plays to a young audience of English language learners. They spoke slowly and loudly, and usually accompanied everything they did with over-exaggerated actions (rather in the style of Monty Python), to make the whole thing very clear.  Mostly the students seemed to understand, laughing at all the right points, for example.

My Cousin Charles is about a girl who tries to play tricks on her hated cousin, only to have the tricks backfire. This past week we had my two sixth grade classes think about tricks they could play on hated cousins. Some of the options:

 - play hide-and-seek, tell the cousin to hide first, and then not seek him/her
 - put toothpaste/a mouse/gum/dust in the cousin's shoe
 - lock the cousin in a room
 - lock the cousin in a dark room
 - ask the cousin to crawl into a box and then not let him/her out
 - trip the cousin so that he/she falls into mud

The slightly older students saw Two Gentlemen with a changed ending, and mostly were able to follow along. What they didn't catch, they discussed with great animation and in German during the half-hour of class we had left at the end of the day. I was gratified to see them so interested in the play and can only hope that they'll keep their interest in Shakespeare for the twelfth grade, when they read him.

In the spirit of enjoying Shakespeare, I leave you with the Reduced Shakespeare Company's rendition of all of the Bard's comedies in one four minute segment. If you have the time, you can find other clips from their Shakespeare show online. The Othello rap is a particular favorite.

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