Last weekend, teachers and Roberto Clemente Community Academy students attended an exciting “Shakespeare Alive!” workshop at the Newberry Library at 60 W. Walton in Chicago. Students enjoyed a Saturday afternoon spent practicing Shakespeare’s language with high schoolers from all over the city.
The workshop was presented by three actors from The Chicago Shakespeare Project, which is collaborating with Shakespeare 400 and the Newberry Library to offer several events this year to celebrate 400 years of Shakespeare. In preparation for our next unit on Othello, juniors showed up to represent Clemente’s English department.
Workshop activities included theatre warm-ups, Shakespearean insults, puzzles, and a culminating choral work activity. The group worked together on breathing work and timing as the ghost of Hamlet’s father in a scene from Hamlet. The actors directed Clemente students to start laying on the floor and slowly make their way to a standing position to create one cohesive ghost-like mass. Working together, everyone made a very eerie presence to inform Hamlet of his father’s murder at the hands of his uncle. Students worked in small groups during lunch to perfect their parts: either a part of the ghost or Hamlet himself. They then acted out the scenes for the group and reflected on their performances.
Students left with manuals focusing on skills gained in the workshop, free copies of several Shakespeare works, and a new-found appreciation of his tricky language. The Clemente Wildcats were inspired to continue practicing and collaborate to enter a Chicago-area Shakespeare acting competition. Clemente teachers look forward to taking more groups to enjoy the offerings of the Newberry Library!