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Can Acting Make You Smarter?

Sweet Tea Shakespeare’s Green Tea and Little Green Tea participants are half-way through their Shakespeare Bootcamp, in preparation for their production of John Fletcher and Philip Massinger’s The Sea Voyage . During this Bootcamp, the youth are learning about Shakespeare, his contemporaries, and the history around The Sea Voyage. They are also exploring acting techniques, such as play analysis, character analysis, and improvisation, among many other topics. And while this may surprise many, we also talked about grammar! 

When the students started their Bootcamp this past Tuesday with a basic overview of the play, suffice it to say they were a little confused about what was going on. One the second day, they examined the first scene through the lens of play analysis. By slowing picking through all the details, their knowledge and understanding of the world of the play increased. On the third day, we did an overview of basic grammar rules. By paying close attention to the grammar used in the scene, the students learned more about what their characters were feeling, and how the lines were meant to be delivered. 

At the end of this grammar lesson, the kids performed the first scene. It was amazing to see the character choices coming through, as they could make informed decisions on how to perform their role based on what they had learned through scene analysis and grammar study. In our end of class debrief, the students acknowledged how much better they understood what they read now, than they had on the first day of Bootcamp. The tools they developed in just those few days are crucial reading comprehension skills, and ones that most of us, if we are being honest, could stand to work on! But this learning process is not exclusive to the youth involved in our Green Tea programs. We frequently start the rehearsal process for our adult productions in a similar method, taking time to work through the text, to ensure all those involved in the play understand what is happening and why. Because when the actors and production team understand the text, it makes the text that much more accessible to the audience. So if you want a chance to work on your grammar or reading comprehension, come and join us. We’d love to learn alongside you, and from you!

 

Green Tea Twelfth Night

When I Grow Up, I Want To Be a Pirate…

When I was growing up, I wanted to be a pirate. Ok, so maybe not in the historical sense of bandits sailing the open seas with survey and bad hygiene, but more like the fictional characters having the occasional harmless sword fight, traveling to tropical places, and searching for buried treasure. And don’t forget the costumes. Haven’t we all dreamed of adventure at one time or another? 

Well, I certainly did not become a pirate. The closest I get is when my husband and I dress as pirates for Halloween sometimes. But the call of adventure is still there. I still hope I can be a pirate someday. For right now, I will settle for stage managing a bunch of young budding actors masquerading  as pirates and amazons in our upcoming production of John Fletcher and Philip Massinger’s The Sea Voyage

Sweet Tea Shakespeare’s youth theatre company, Green Tea, is partnering with Chameleon Children’s Theatre to bring you The Sea Voyage. Auditions are open through February 12th, so if you know any “green” youth actors who dream of being pirates, help us spread the word. Either way, we hope you will join us for the adventure. Come dream of being a pirate with me.

Peace, Love, and Shakespeare,

Jessie

A Gift for Everyone

I’m a minimalist. Well, at least I’m trying to be. I still have a lot of stuff in my house, but I’m working on it. After all, if you talk to many minimalists, they will tell you it’s not so much how many things a person owns, as it is the question of whether or not the things owned add value to the individual’s life. One of the key values of a minimalist is that experiences are more important than physical things. In this, I feel that my views aline.

Physical things are needy. They may not be able to talk, but they demand our attention. Knick-knacks require dusting. Electronics require regular updates. Silver requires polishing. Clothes require laundering. The list goes on. The more we have, the more time it takes to tend to our items. Experiences, on the other hand, just require our attention once, in the moment. The only demand is to “be in the moment,” to participate in the joy the new experience brings. 

Here at Sweet Tea Shakespeare, our goal is to gather our audiences and patrons around experiences. We create performances of Shakespeare plays, podcasts, radio theatre performances of Restoration dramas, and concerts. We create workshops. We create inter-active improvisational interpretations of Shakespeare’s works. We create training grounds for student artists to learn about theatre and improve their reading skills. We recognize that these experiences add value to life. They build community. They educate. They make us laugh; they make us cry. They inspire us to be better people. 

This year, I’d like to encourage you to think minimally as you shop for gift ideas. What experiences can you give this year? We have some pretty cool opportunities, if I do say so myself. For starters, check out these awesome Holiday Pass to all our upcoming digital productions this holiday season! Or if you have any children in your life, consider enrolling them in our Green Tea or Little Green Tea Companies! 

 

Peace, Love, Shakespeare, and Happy Holidays!

Jessie

Coming Soon to a Living Room Near You!

Where are my fellow introverts?

Earlier this week, I was discussing with Assistant Artistic Director Claire Martin some of the ingenuity that has been birthed from necessity this year. As we discussed the recent live stream performance of The Rover she directed as part of the Digital Restoration Series. As artists, we have had to learn how to keep the integral parts of a Sweet Tea Shakespeare performance, such as audience interaction and intimate scenes over Zoom. As we talked, I was amazed to see that it was in fact possible to still integrate these elements, opening doors to new opportunities, such as working with artists from all over the globe. 

One of my favorite opportunities, as an introvert, is the ability to watch theatre from the comfort of my living room, something nearly unimaginable back in March. Shakespeare in pajamas? Count me in! Next on the docket is our filmed live action production of Shakespeare’s Knight’s Tale, otherwise known as Two Noble Kinsmen. Inspired by Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, this story follows the tale of two knights captured by Theseus, Duke of Athens, and their love for an inspiring woman of the court, Emilia. Trouble stirs when the daughter of their jailer falls in love with one of them and sets in motion a series of events that rocks the life of everyone involved. Both celebratory and serious, Knight’s Tale is a beautiful, visually inspiring, and sensory play. I had the privilege to work on this production, so I hope many will take the opportunity to watch. It really could not be any simpler. Buy your tickets, grab your snacks, put on your cozy pants, and curl up in front of the tv for a Sweet Tea Shakespeare experience in your living room. Stir up your tickets here.

Peace, Love, and Shakespeare, 

Jessie

What’s Brewing?

“How was your day?”

This question opened tonight’s rehearsal for the next Sweet Tea Shakespeare Hours concert installment, as we waited on musicians and vocalists to trickle in from their day jobs. The verdict: It was a very Monday kind of day for many of us. So as we waited for our company to assemble, we spilled the tea of how our day had been thus far. And we spilled that tea, knowing that we all cared to hear each other’s answer, and that it mattered. (Empathy. Theatre teaches it. It’s pretty awesome.)

Once most of us assembled, we prepared to get down to business. But not before company member and the concert music director for this installment, Aaron Alderman, made us all stand up and shake off all the junk from earlier today. It reminded me of why we gather together to make music, to make theatre. We gather for community. We gather for escape from the mundane and the frustrating parts of life. I imagine this is why Shakespeare and his contemporaries gathered as well. I like to think this was the reason.

So yes, we are stirring up a new concert installment for you for later release, as well as some new podcast episodes and radio theatre performance. Not to mention that Green Tea is working on filming their production of The Magician’s Nephew. Exciting things are coming. And we are excited to share it with you. But we are also excited to gather around as a community, and shake off the junk life throws. We hope you will join us.

Green Tea Twelfth Night

What Theatre Can Do

I acted in my first play when I was 12 years old. It was the musical Oliver! at a small community theatre. I played an orphan boy in the ensemble. I had grown up to that point singing in the children’s choir at church and taking ballet lessons, but this was my first real experience acting. Little did I know then how much it would impact my life.

I would later go on to earn my undergraduate and graduate degrees in theatre, focusing in on education. If you have ever spent time teaching an art, you understand the importance of being able to communicate why your art is vital to the educational experience of every child. I have spent a lot of time dedicated to answering that question for myself. Why is theatre important? Why is it an important part of child development? I have listed some (this is by no means comprehensive) below:

  • Theatre teaches empathy
  • Theatre fosters creativity
  • Theatre promotes literature and other art forms
  • Theatre teaches history
  • Theatre builds self esteem
  • Theatre teaches that people have different gifts, and that it takes all these gifts to create theatre magic

The list could go on and on. And when you throw Shakespeare in the mix, you add in language skills as well. Here at Sweet Tea Shakespeare, we have long known that Shakespeare and theatre are not just for the grown ups, inspiring our Green Tea program. We are thrilled to have recently extended that offering to younger students, now reaching those as young as in elementary school! It’s not just work though. Our instructors know how to bring the fun! This is a great opportunity for kids of all ages to break out of the ordinary, have fun, socialize, and learn something new! But if you are not a kid, or if your child is not quite ready to take the leap into Green Tea yet, that’s ok. There’s still ways to reap the benefits from theatre. Be an audience member and support our Green Tea actors by coming to our production of The Magician’s Nephew by C. S. Lewis as dramatized by Aurand Harris. It’s a magical experience you won’t want to miss!

Hope to see you there!

Jessie Wise

Discourse Fellow