Royal Shakespeare Company Hosts Summer Program in England

Nelson Gaillard, Staff Writer

This summer, William Shakespeare captured the minds of dozens of faculty on their trip to Stratford, England, as well as the minds of students who attended the school’s five-day summer program hosted by the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC).

Although English Department Head Vernon Wilson did not attend the program this summer, he has attended the past few summers.

He believes that the goals of the RSC summer program were to engage with and offer a more playful approach to Shakespeare’s works, he said. He wanted the students to treat Shakespeare’s works as “not just another book on the syllabus,” he said.

Damali O’Keefe ’18 attended the program, which was held at the school, and felt like she gained more confidence in her performing abilities, she said.

A typical day of the school’s program began at 9 am in the Recital Hall where students would commence their warm-up exercises. Following, students worked on cutting down an hour and a half long play, ​Pericles, Prince of Tyre,​ into a shorter, 45-minute performance with each participant performing an individual monologue. The students figured out ways to perform on as much of the campus and have as many audience members participate as possible, O’Keefe said.

“A lot of the exercises that we did were about making sure that your voice comes from a place of strength or making sure that you really understand the lines you’re delivering,” O’Keefe said.

O’Keefe chose the RSC program because of her interest in film directing, she said. “Line delivery, understanding your lines, and being a part of an ensemble are lessons that I will 100% use when directing actors,” she said.

Several faculty also partook in Shakespeare activities for four days in Stratford, England, working in tandem with the RSC to learn and practice exercises that they can then bring back to the classroom, English teacher Dr. Wendy Steiner said. “One goal behind the exercises is to get our classes functioning more as ensembles so that we can explore Shakespeare and other literary texts as a functioning group,” she said.

“When done well and with some consistency, [the exercises] really open up a way to experience Shakespeare’s work,” Wilson said.

The trip to Stratford was a “week long, full-on, [Shakespeare] immersion with a bunch of colleagues,” Wilson said.

“I’ve had the opportunity to go to Stratford twice, and, without question, these visits have been the greatest professional development experiences of my career,” Steiner said.