Confession: I was never a fan of Shakespeare. My introduction began in ninth grade with Romeo & Juliet followed by Julius Caesar followed by Macbeth. The door slammed shut senior year with Hamlet, and that was it. I don’t remember ever studying any other Shakespearean play or poem even during college. And shouldn’t a bit of the bard have been included within a Bachelor of Arts degree program? Alas, his absence was no great tragedy to me.
One of my clearest high school memories involved acting out the Macbeth witch scene with two of my best friends. Mrs. Key, our English teacher, was two-thirds drama teacher, so improv was always part of our curriculum.
Imagine if you will…
a dark, dank cavern (which was really a classroom in the Delta),
and in the center, a boiling cauldron (which was really a garbage can),
and around it, we girls with naturally stringy (midnight hag) hair
delivered our lines with much giggling (instead of cackling).
Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and cauldron bubble.
Yeah, no. I stayed confused amongst all of Shakespeare’s methinks and hithers and hences.
Thirty-five-some-odd-years later, I had a literary “aha” moment while taking a Shakespeare class at Olli at U of A. (I’ve talked about Olli before, which you
can should read about HERE.) What perfect timing since my #NWArkCares blogger group is focusing on literacy in September. I’m not really sure why I signed up for this particular class other than the class description sounded interesting, plus if I’m being honest (and I am), A Midsummer Night’s Dream has always sounded a bit, well, dreamy to me.
So I did and I went and it was an entertaining and educational experience. Eye-opening, even.
Instructor David Jolliffe (whose impressive biography I didn’t know until know until now) brought Shakespeare to life in a classroom not unlike mine from the Delta. In addition to holding the Brown Chair in Literacy at the University of Arkansas and working as an English professor, he is active in the Classical Edge Theatre in Bentonville.
And my aha moment? It wasn’t that I enjoyed my Shakespeare class, although that was a bonus. It was that Classical Edge provides edge-ucation, student education and teacher workshops in area schools. Students have fun with Shakespeare, acting out the mob scenes of Julius Caesar, learning how playwrights and actors create comic plots and scenes. Classical Edge is getting kids excited about reading and learning and literacy.
That is huge.
No kidding, if I could feel warm and fuzzy about Shakespeare within the span of a two hour Olli class, I can only imagine the success this program is having within a school setting.
Now, it’s your turn to take action for arts and literacy and the good of all mankind.☺
b) Support Classical Edge Theatre by attending events. (Maybe even become a donor.) This group is doing good things in the area.
c) Become an Olli member by visiting the website HERE. Benefits extend well beyond classes.
Go get your Shakespeare on.
Grace Grits and Gardening
Farm. Food. Garden. Life.
Mendelssohn A Midsummer Night’s Dream Overture Op.21 by Masur, LGO (1997)