During talkbacks for our 2018 tour of Two Gentlemen of Verona, students would often ask when Mended Wing would be offering programming for students beyond a single performance, and I am thrilled today to have an answer to that question!
On March 25th and 26th Mended Wing Teaching Artists will be conducting classes at the Clayton County Performing Arts Center, on the specific methods which our company has used to rehearse our first two tours. These classes mark the beginning of a new phase in the development of Mended Wing Theatre Co. as we seek to expand our outreach and bring theatre education and Shakespeare to an even wider audience, with a year-round operating calendar.
The structure and content of these classes will be much like the rehearsal process Mended Wing uses when crafting our touring shows, a set of ideas I like to call Playbox Shakespeare. This approach aims at highlighting and exaggerating emblematic storytelling elements to make sure the audience never loses track of what is going on, (an important consideration for audiences who may not recognize every word). We blend non-verbal improv and clowning with classical verse-speaking techniques to create highly kinetic pieces that still maintain the beauty of Shakespeare's language.
This has worked for our rehearsals, and I believe the same process will work to introduce young actors and actresses to Shakespeare in a fun and productive way. Unlike our original tour however, when all Cameron and I had to go on was a conviction that kids could grasp Shakespeare but no proof; this time around we have experience to back it up. Back in November, fellow teaching artist, Wade Hollomon, and I traveled to Columbus, Ohio to attend a workshop at OSU on Shakespeare and Autism. Kevin McClatchy, who heads the Shakespeare and Autism Project at OSU, taught us techniques for teaching Shakespeare to children with autism in the morning, and we subsequently used those techniques with students in the afternoon. Beyond the incredible value of the experience itself, I saw that this sort of playful engagement with the Bard could be exactly the way into teaching classes I'd been looking for since students first asked about Mended Wing's other programs.
If the upcoming classes are as successful as I hope and believe they will be, then Mended Wing will begin offering classes to schools across Georgia in the 2019-20 School year!
For more info on the Shakespeare and Autism Project visit: https://theatre.osu.edu/shakespeare-and-autism-project