It was another busy weekend for the ABLE team. In preparations for our production of Twelfth Night, our Teaching Team spent the weekend learning from and with other teachers at Chicago Shakespeare Theater.
Chicago Shakespeare Theater and their Education Staff have been ardent supporters of our work for several years. This year it just so happens that they are also producing Twelfth Night for their annual Short Shakespeare production, so our teaching artists and facilitators got the chance to participate in a fabulous all-day Page to Stage: Teaching Twelfth Night Workshop this past Saturday. Designed for classroom teachers, these FREE workshops hosted by CST give teachers a chance to learn more about Shakespeare, interpretation, and pedagogy, and help give strategies to make Shakespeare more accessible and approachable in the classroom. Teachers from all different disciplines and grade levels, came from all over the region to participate.
The day started with an open rehearsal of Short Shakespeare: Twelfth Night. The cast is only one week in to rehearsals, and they are still exploring their characters and objectives. We were able to watch practice for the infamous “yellow stockings” scene where Malvolio attempts to woo Olivia. It was great to see the actors think on their feet, play with the words and change up their interpretations from one run-through to the next, and also to hear how the director, Kirsten Kelly, questioned them and guided their performances. The Q&A afterwards gave some helpful insight about helping actors to own the language, and about abridging the script, as well as highlighting the central themes of the play.
From there, the group split into two sections to do focused workshops. Tim Duggan led the first section about cutting Shakespeare; Katie was delighted since she is still trying to trim down our adaptation! The next section, led by Katie McKnight focused on improvisation in the classroom. We already do a lot of this, but it was fun to play some different exercises and think about how we can apply them specifically to Twelfth Night. It was also really special to see other teachers recognize the value in this kind of work – it’s no secret to us that improv can make a huge difference in comprehension, language building, and social skills, and hopefully these teachers were inspired to incorporate some of this work into a more traditional classroom setting.
After lunch on Navy Pier (have you been to Navy Pier recently? There are so many new places to eat!), the day finished with a lecture from CST’s Scholar in Residence, Regina Buccola talking about some of the historical context and themes within Twelfth Night. She focused a lot of the different pairings in the play:
- Orsino’s House is consumed by his obsession with Olivia, Olivia’s house is consumed by her obsession with her brother’s death
- Viola and Sebastian are paired because they’re twins
- Viola and Feste are paired because they both adopt disguises and they both make lots of puns
- Viola and Olivia are both mourning for their brothers
It’s great to find parallels between characters, and highlighting these in class will help our actors to learn the story better.
We were also so surprised and touched that CST’s Director of Education, Marilyn Haleprin, announced our production to the entire group and said “if you only see one thing in the Shakespeare 400 catalogue, see ABLE”! We are so grateful to Marilyn, Jason, Molly, Roxanna, Doreen, and everyone at Chicago Shakespeare Theater for all that they’ve done through the years to support our actors and teaching staff, and are grateful we had the chance to participate in this fun and thought-provoking day of learning!
Want to See Short Shakespeare Twelfth Night?
Click here to visit Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s website for ticketing information. ABLE has a field trip scheduled for April – maybe we’ll see you at the show!
Want to Learn More about CST’s Teacher Workshops?
Click here to be re-directed to CST's Education Website. There’s another workshop about Othello coming up this weekend, and they run others periodically throughout the year. Teachers can earn CPDU’s for participating:
Want To Join Our Team?
Our facilitators are an integral part of our ensemble, assisting teaching artists in classes and performances. They participate in activities side-by-side with our actors to ensure everyone has a safe, productive, and fun time! You don't have to be an actor, you just have to be kind, fun-loving, patient, and willing to bust a move during our dance party at the start of class. Scheduling is flexible - you can pick 6 classes during the semester that work with your schedule. Click here to read for our Facilitator FAQ’s or check out This Old Blog Post for more details, and feel free to E-mail us with any questions!