In October, educators from Shakespeare’s Globe in London, England, spent two weeks visiting classrooms in Round Rock as the beginning of a 10-year theatre-based language arts program. The program is the result of a nearly $49,000 grant from Round Rock ISD’s Innovative School Grants program.
“We’ve reached over 3,000 kids,” says Charles Hobby, theatre director at Round Rock High School. “The kids loved it.”
Jack Murray visited five elementary schools, telling the story of The Tempest. Students participated in the storytelling by, for example, helping recreate the sounds of the storm that opens the play. Hobby says the physicality of Murray’s storytelling allowed students to connect language with movement and sound.
“It’s not about reading. It’s not about writing. It’s just about language as something that we use,” says Hobby. “They get up on their feet. They’re not sitting at their desk.”
Emily Plumtree guided middle school students in exploring Shakepeare’s texts, discussing language, themes and images in more depth. Both Murray and Plumtree led a continuing professional development workshop for teachers, focusing on techniques that motivate and engage students.
At Round Rock High School, the pair prepared students for a production of Romeo and Juliet. The play was performed for the public over two weekends in the school’s black box theatre, which was transformed into a replica of the Globe Theatre of Shakespeare’s time.
“Shakespeare wrote for that stage,” says Hobby. “There’s not a bad seat in the Globe.”
Next year, Hobby says the educators will return for workshops, and high school students will again cap the experience with the production of a Shakespeare play.
The visit by Murray and Plumtree coincides with the launch of GET Shakespeare (Globe Education Teaching Shakespeare): a free digital tool that allows teachers around the world to select and save hundreds of Globe resources, from film clips of previous productions to fact sheets, synopses and essays. For more information, visit shakespearesglobe.com.