Playing is serious work, and playing Shakespeare among the most serious work of all. Mastering the rich language and complex characters of Shakespeare’s plays has been the highest goal of western theater for hundreds of years. To perform Shakespeare is to make contact with the deepest, truest, funniest, saddest, most persistent and most genuine aspects of our humanity. Today high school students are usually introduced to his plays as assigned reading in a classroom, but this course will re‐introduce students to his plays as they were originally written: as scripts for lively, and living, performance.
Course Description: Performing Shakespeare
July 26th - August 8th
Over the past four hundred years, we have made Shakespeare into one of the most intimidating cultural icons in the world. Because of this, students often dread his plays – but this is in large part because they are often taught as books to be read rather than, as they were intended, scripts to be performed. On the page, his language is dense and often confusing; but on the stage, that language becomes engaging, moving, and truly alive. Performing Shakespeareintroduces students to a theatrical approach to mastering the works of the greatest playwright in the English language. The course is for all students, including those who have no prior experience with performance and those who have no prior experience with Shakespeare.
While the two weeks culminate with student performances of scenes, the course is process-centered, with an emphasis on practical experience and collaboration. Students will analyze a Shakespearean character from an actor’s perspective, they will decode clues about action and emotion in Shakespeare’s verse and prose, they will map out the theatrical structure of the Shakespearean scene, and they will experiment with different ways of translating all of those into a compelling and original performance. Through improvisational games, exploration of the text, movement, production design, and experimentation and rehearsal, students will come away with the skills of cooperation, creativity, and critical thinking that will serve them when they approach any complex text or any great challenge.
Apply online at www.umass.edu/summer/precollege