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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!

 

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

Macbeth: A Note on the Throne

Have you caught a production of Macbeth yet? If not, never fear! You still have 4 more chances to catch a production this week at Vizcaya Villa. For tickets, click here. For some context before you go, keep reading as we explore kingship, or, as it’s often referred to, “the throne.”

The concept of kingship is recurrent throughout Macbeth. It is interesting to note that during the time the play was written, King James I, who believed strongly that the throne should be passed down by hereditary means, was sitting on England’s throne. It is also interesting to note that several of the honorable noblemen and military officials featured in Macbeth can be traced as direct ancestors of King James I, including Duncan, Malcolm, Siward, Banquo, and Fleance. While in the world of Macbeth the throne is passed down based on the blood line, this was a recently established procedure. It was not until Duncan’s great-grandfather came into power that this process was put into place. Before this, the Scottish Princes of Cumberland were elected by the council of thanes. This change in how the throne was filled was not openly received by all.

Hopefully this is some fun food for thought as you watch the play! Hope to see you there!

Julius Caesar is Going Green!

Do the teens in your life want more acting experience, or just plain love Shakespeare? Check out Sweet Tea Shakespeare’s Green Tea, a youth company for ages 12-17. This is a great opportunity for youth to learn more about Shakespeare, and built skills in acting, scene study, improvisation, and language over the course of a year. They will even have the opportunity to perform in Julius Caesar in March! Learn more here.

Green Tea: For the Kids in Your Life

Looking for a great, interactive gift for the children in your life? Sweet Tea Shakespeare’s Green Tea is a youth company for ages 12-17. This is a great opportunity for youth to learn more about Shakespeare, and built skills in acting, scene study, improvisation, and language over the course of a year. They will even have the opportunity to perform in Julius Caesar in March! Learn more here.