This multimedia subscriber website has been produced through a collaboration between the Royal Shakespeare Company and the University of Warwick. It gives a practical and theoretical insight into the successful “active approach to Shakespeare” used by the education department of the RSC and affiliated universities in the UK and the USA. Highly experienced practitioners (including actors, teachers and renowned directors of stage, voice and movement) take the visitor through dozens of activities using videos, podcasts, lesson plans, adapted script extracts and extensive downloadable resources. Developed from the RSC Shakespeare Toolkit for Teachers, the site is well-organised, including a user’s guide and a simple and intuitive layout. A handy index runs along the bottom of the video section like a filmstrip.
The site is divided into ten units, including “Building an Ensemble Classroom”, Telling the Story of the Play”, “Exploring Shakespeare's Language” and ‘Why Teach Shakespeare Now?” The first few units outline the ensemble approach using accessible drama games and strategies such as “Whoosh!”, “Stop Go Jump Clap” and “Rubber Duck”. Each game is explained and demonstrated with classes of teenagers while the aims of the methods are discussed by a range of teachers and theatre professionals. Strategies for exploring the imagery and rhythm of Shakespeare’s language are followed by exercises and approaches for exploring four plays – Romeo and Juliet, Midsummer Night’s Dream, Macbeth and Hamlet.
(Above) Exploring the Imagery
This site provides an unique insight into an approach which has been developed over several years by the RSC and the University of Warwick, as well as access to the reflections of a wide range of experts from across the world, including Michael Boyd, Cicely Berry, Tim Crouch, Jonothan Neelands, Miles Tandy and many others. It builds on the valuable material of the RSC Toolkit, enabling the viewer to experience the approaches through a range of media – it’s one thing to read about an activity and another to see how it is done. Viewers can refer to the material again and again to pick up tips and see how games are played or strategies employed. Subscribers can follow links to the relevant sections of the Toolkit and comment on individual videos.
(Above) Working with Egeus's speech
The resources will be extremely useful for teachers in the UK and abroad who wish to explore Shakespeare with Key Stage 2 and Key Stage 3 pupils. This high quality material comes at a price – a school site licence is £385 per year for multiple users. While this will be of great value to many schools, the cost of £285 for an individual licence is likely to be prohibitive to the majority of freelance practitioners. It is also possible to use the site to work towards a Postgraduate Award in the Teaching of Shakespeare (Online) with tutorials and live webinars for a fee of £995 + VAT.
Full details about the site can be found at www.teachingshakespeare.ac.uk.