Monthly Archives: January 2014

How to make Shakespeare come alive

Performer onstage

Last week we had the pleasure of hosting a Drama Education workshop with trainers from the Royal Shakespeare Company, Rebecca Gould and Chris White in Delhi. Chris and Rebecca spent three days with 30 teachers and theatre professionals where they conducted activities on how to engage students with Shakespeare.

We caught up with Chris after the workshop to share his knowledge on how to make Shakespeare come alive in the classroom for both teachers and students.

One of the key themes that arose in the workshop was about connecting with the plays and the words. Chris believes that having a personal connection with a play or aspects of a play is an invaluable teaching asset as this makes is much easier to share with your students.

Chris gave us the following top tips for creating that connection:

1) Choose the play that appeals to you. Or, if you don’t have a Shakespearian play with which you feel a personal connection, then you can find aspects within a play with which you relate to, such as a character, a scene or even one line. This will give you a starting point to explore with your students.

2) Try to understand the play from the inside. Give yourself the opportunity to experience the situation, feel the sensations that come from being one of the people in the play. Leap into the play and speak the words out loud to yourself and let them become your own. You can try speaking the words out loud in different places or while doing different activities – it is amazing how this helps unlock the meaning of the words.

3) Try to explore and enjoy the sounds of the words as much as the meaning.Exploring and feeling at ease with the words are key for teachers and students. Teachers and students can even try these ideas together in a group. Shakespeare’s words are egalitarian, even if they have the opposite reputation. It is just a question of experiencing them for yourself rather than as an academic exercise.

These gems of knowledge seemed to definitely inspire the teachers at the workshop. One teacher was particularly enthused with the new ways to engage better with the text, “I discovered how language should not be a barrier and we picked up techniques to get children more engaged with Shakespeare.”

Have you had experience of teaching Shakespeare? What worked best for you?


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