Archive for November, 2013

Thanksgiving Cheer

Want to have a Shakespearean Thanksgiving?  Here are some components to make the day just right:

Thanks to our friends at the American Shakespeare Center and the Folger Shakespeare Library for the ideas.


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CompetitionWith the implementation of the Common Core State Standards, speaking and listening are now emphasized as an important part of the English/Language Arts curriculum.  In spite of this, though, many teachers are still limited to the read, analyze, write an essay method of teaching poetry, and they are hesitant to go beyond that routine.  A tool from the past, though, can allow them an easy way into spoken text with their students:  poetry recitation.

Picture1Recitation is as old as the Olympics, and it was still popular in the 19th and early 20th centuries.  It began to decline in the mid 20th century and since then has had negative connotations; many see recitation as an old-fashioned and ineffective way of teaching. But it’s actually the opposite:  a contemporary and productive way to engage students in the spoken text.  Recitation is a type of performance-based learning (an interactive approach where students participate in a close reading of text through intellectual, physical and vocal engagement).  This type of teaching creates a powerful, personal connection to poetry that works across all grade levels and capabilities from ELL to AP students.

Picture3This type of interactive study has a great impact on students. It develops their critical thinking and communication skills, increases their vocabulary and boosts their self-confidence; they become skilled readers, active listeners and confident speakers.  Through recitation, students fine tune their close-reading skills, master effective public-speaking  and listening skills and improve their focus and memory.  The mental tools used in this type of learning have even been proved to improve brain function!  The personal preparation and peer feedback that goes into their presentations allows them to acquire a sense of community and ownership.  While studying a range of poems, they also learn about their important literary heritage.  All these benefits add up to a more socially and intellectually developed student.

Picture2So poetry recitation is productive, but is it still relevant in contemporary education?  The answer is a resounding yes. The skills taught and developed by recitation fit well with current standards like Common Core.  Students deeply and thoughtfully engage in increasing complex texts, are held to rigous standards throughout the recitation process and grow as individuals in ways that make them college and career ready.   Standards in Reading for Literature, Speaking & Listening and Language are satisfied, but more importantly students are developing skills that serve across multiple disciplines (and beyond the classroom).  Thus, traditional poetry recitation is still effective in today’s modern world.

Want to gain the knowledge, skills and confidence to introduce recitation into your classrooms?  Join us at our session at the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) annual convention with The Poetry Foundation:

Standing up for Poetry: Recitation in the Classroom
Saturday, November 23, 2013
1:15-2:30 PM EST
Hynes Convention Center, Room 205 (Level Two)

  • Discover ways to implement recitation in your classroom
  • Learn how to assess student presentation
  • Explore connections to the Common Core

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We’re Heading to Boston…

The National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) annual convention comes to the East Coast this week.  We’ll be there and we hope you can join us (November 21-24).  It’s shaping up to be an exciting event!  Don’t miss out: Register now.

While you’re there…

– Attend our session with The Poetry Foundation:

Standing up for Poetry: Recitation in the Classroom
Saturday, November 23, 2013
1:15-2:30 PM EST
Hynes Convention Center, Room 205 (Level Two)

– Stop by our booth (#1405) in the Exhibition Hall

  • Participate in our prize raffle
  • Take your picture with Shakespeare
  • Pick up swag for your classroom
  • Get the latest info. on Shakespeare in NYC

We’re looking forward to seeing you in Beantown and hearing all about your experiences with the Bard!

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Sarah Lane as Miranda and Marcelo Gomes as Prospero in The Tempest.© Marty Sohl. (Click image for larger version)

Photo by Marty Sohl/American Ballet Theatre

Although language is what makes Shakespeare so great, his works have interestingly inspired some wordless productions:  ballets. The most recent one was American Ballet Theatre’s production of The Tempest at Lincoln Center (choreographed by their Artist-in-Residence Alexei Ratmansky).  But that’s just the latest in a long love affair between ballet choreographers and the Bard.

Brief History of Shakespeare and Ballet:

  • Productions date back to at least the 1760s with a French  Antony and Cleopatra.
  • The most popular productions are Romeo and Juliet (Kenneth MacMillan), The Taming of the Shrew (John Cranko) and A Midsummer Night’s Dream (George Balanchine and Frederick Ashton).
  • The Tempest has been choreographed over half a dozen times.
  • As You Like It, Coriolanus, Hamlet, Macbeth, The Merry Wives of Windsor, and Much Ado about Nothing  have also been adapted.
  • The Moor’s Pavane (based on Othello) utilizes a slow courtly dance common in the Renaissance.
  • New upcoming productions include The Tempest for the Dutch National Ballet and The Winter’s Tale for the Royal Ballet.

Missed The Tempest?  Then mark your calendars for next spring when ABT offers another chance to see it along with The Dream (based on A Midsummer Night’s Dream) in celebration of Shakespeare’s 450th birthday.

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Band of Brothers

Yesterday was Veterans Day.  In honor our servicemen and women past and present, we’re posting part of the Bard’s “St. Crispen’s Day Speech” from Henry V.  This motivation speech by King Henry rouses his troops to victory against the French at the Battle of Agincourt during the Hundred Years’ War.

This day is called the feast of Crispian.
He that outlives this day and comes safe home
Will stand o’ tiptoe when this day is named
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall see this day, and live old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbors
And say “Tomorrow is Saint Crispian.”
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars.
Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,
But he’ll remember with advantages
What feats he did that day. Then shall our names,
Familiar in his mouth as household words,
Harry the King, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester,
Be in their flowing cups freshly remembered.
This story shall the good man teach his son,
And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be rememberèd—
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he today that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in England now abed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.

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November Productions

With the whirlwind of Shakespeare this season, it’s been hard to keep up.
Here’s your last chance to catch these productions:

Ends this Saturday (November 9)
Directed by Phyllida Lloyd
A Donmar Warehouse Production
St. Ann’s Warehouse (Brooklyn)

Ends this Sunday (November 10)
Directed by Tea Alagic
Featuring Elisabeth Olsen and Julian Cihi
Classic Stage Company (Manhattan)

And don’t miss these shows opening later this month:

Opening this Sunday (November 10)
Featuring Mark Rylance and Stephen Fry
A Shakespeare’s Globe Production on Broadway
Belasco Theatre (Manhattan)

Opening Tuesday, November 19
A Bedlam Theater Production
Lynn Redgrave Theater (Manhattan)

Opening Thursday, November 21
Featuring Ethan Hawke and Anne-Marie Duff
Lincoln Center Theater
Vivian Beaumont Theater (Manhattan)

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It’s Election Day!  Vote “yes” to the Bard today by doing one of the following:

Have more suggestions?  Let us know.

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