Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Day 2: The Petting Zoo and Silent Scenes

Tuesday, July 3

Today I got a lot more sleep and am now "used" to dorm life at AU.

Morning Lecture:  Jay Halio "The Tragic Frames of The Comedy of Errors"

Jay's Lecture discussed how there is always a tragic element in all of Shakespeare's comedies.  Our whole system of categorizing "comedy" and "tragedy" is not effective.  For example, in Err. and MV, you have tragic elements:  Egeon's death sentence and Shylock's desire to kill Antonio.

Seminar with Margaret Maurer

Margaret lead our sub-group in a beginning discussion of this week's play:  Err.  We came up with a list of general questions and then attacked each of them.  Margaret is an extraordinary professor, and her students at Colgate University are lucky to have her.

We were split into 3 groups for the seminar.  I loved my seminar group and think I am beginning to really like Err. and believe that it is a valid play to insert into my freshman curriculum.

Intro to Collection or "The Petting Zoo"

Margaret fondly called our intro to the Reading Room as the Petting Zoo where we get to touch the books--she was right!  We had a mind-blowing introduction to the HUGE collection at the Folger and the librarian showed us many rare books that pertained to the plays we are studying this month.

And then, there it was,  THE FIRST FOLIO! *audible gasp*

We are absolutely allowed to touch, without gloves, everything in this monstropolous of a library.  And I did let my pinky graze le folio as I was leaving the room.  OOOHHH!!

We're not worthy does not even begin to explain it!

This was one of the many epiphanies of my time here:  Really?  You are letting US touch these things?  Hold them? Read them?  The answer is YES!  We have access to all of the books in the entire library and the VAULT! (I will take a pic of the outside of the vault soon)

*ridiculous Greta thought:  If I was single, I would totally come to the Folger Reading Room and find a husband.*

Curriculum Session with Sue Biondo-Hench

After our exhilarating session in the library, we headed to the theater for our curriculum discussion with Sue.

We discussed several strategies and used the Cambridge School Edition of Err.:

  • the use of a PLAY MAP for your students to help them navigate the play you will be reading.  These are great and are in the Shakespeare Set Free books if you have them.
  • We then did SILENT SCENES, which are basic outlines of scenes from your play (Hamlet meeting the ghost, Macbeth banquet scene, Helena and Hermia fighting, etc).  
    • Students are given the Silent Scene which just lists ACTION for a scene (three men talk about seeing a ghost, the ghost appears and makes one of them follow him, the ghost is his father, etc) No names or lines.
    • Students come up with a mime for the scene.  If you have a few props, this helps alleviate a lot of pressure and makes it even more FUN.
    • Students perform scene and audience decides what the action is showing.
  •  The next exercise involved breaking up Antipholus' speech in Err. where he imagines what horrible things are in the city.  Each small group/pair had one line and came up with a pantomime for the line.  Class decides who will read the speech and how to block it.  Again, we used some fun props.  This would work for those long monologues that have lots of metaphors.  It helps students visualize the action and aids in comprehension.
  • Lastly, we did some comparisons with other works.  We compared A Noiseless Patient Spider by Whitman to  the speech given by Antipholus of Syracuse where he says "I am to the world like a drop of water."
So overwhelmed at the end of the day!  We all got back to the AU dorms and I introduced everyone to the antithesis of scholarly Shakespeare:  My American Gypsy Wedding.  Sometimes, you just need to give the Bard a break!

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