A Whole Lotta Shakespeare Goin’ On: A Passport to His Entire Canon

Summer is fast approaching and with it, productions of Shakespeare are popping up all over the country, many of which are staged in local parks. I love Shakespeare!  While I never got to study it in school, I have delighted in discovering his wit and charm alongside my children.

shakespeare canon passportSoon after we first started homeschooling, I made it a goal to see at least one play each year.  The Oregon Shakespeare Festival, widely recognized as one of the best theater festivals in the world, has always been only a couple of hours from where we live. Thus far, we have not been far off that goal.

2006 A Winter’s Tale *

2007 Romeo & Juliet *

2008 Othello *

2009 MacBeth *

2010 Twelfth Night

A Midsummer Nights Dream 2011 (Drake Park, Bend, Oregon)

 2012 Romeo & Juliet

2015 Much Ado About Nothing

2016 Shakespeare in the Park (select scenes from four plays at Shore Acres State Park, Oregon)

* The kids didn’t start attending until 2010 when our youngest was six years old, the minimum age required for admittance.

 

shakespeare canon passportShakespeare Canon Passport

With each production I have seen, I am more devoted to eventually seeing Shakespeare’s entire canon. To commemorate this feat, I have created a passport in which I can document a little anecdote from each play I’ve attended.

I printed the title page onto colored cardstock and the remaining pages on standard paper. I just love how it all came together and I know you will too. There is room to note when / where you saw the production as well as for a favorite quote from the play. It is available for purchase in my Teachers Pay Teachers store.

If you are interested in learning how to incorporate Shakespeare into your curriculum, consider an earlier post, Much Ado About Shakespeare, where I outline a step-by-step plan to teaching Shakespeare to middle school students.

The Magic of Willy Wonka Jr

My son has always been very animated. He loves play-acting his favorite scenes from movies – particularly live action, adventure films like Indiana Jones. Upon watching Broon perform at a local Renaissance Faire last year, he found Broon’s show on YouTube and proceeded to watch it over and over again until he had memorized his lines and could recreate the show himself – with whip props and all.

He also loves to play the piano whenever he has an audience and after each recital, will play additional songs from his repertoire as the other students and guests visit with one another.  Seeing his enthusiasm, I knew I had to find a performing arts class or drama production.

In the winter, I read about auditions for a local production of Willy Wonka Jr.  I knew that a creative outlet like this would be the perfect experience for both kids. I signed them up and let anticipation build.

Days before the audition, my little man began to doubt himself. He was nervous and he stated that he didn’t want to audition.  He didn’t want to participate. I held strong to my conviction that he would enjoy the experience.  “Just give it a try.  If you don’t like it, you don’t have to do another one.  I think you will really like it though, Sweatheart. Don’t give up before you even start.”

willywonka

On the day of auditions, the kids came prepared to read lines and sing a song.  Upon arrival, we learned there were fewer kids than there were parts so they were not requiring lines to be read.  The only requirement was a song, to give the directors a little peak into their personalities.

My daughter chose to sing The Star Spangled Banner and my son sang 新年好 (XīnNiánHǎoHappy New Year).  She was her usual demure, quiet young lady.  He the giggly, boisterous boy. I wasn’t surprised when she was cast at Mrs. Beauregard (Violet’s mother) and he, as Mike Teavee.

On the first day of rehearsals (we began twice weekly rehearsals in early January with the performances slated for the first weekend in April), the directors talked briefly about all that they could expect during the next few months.  She even listed off all the life skills they would develop as a result of their experience in theater.

The Benefits of Theater Experiences

  • Creativity
  • Confidence
  • Problem Solving
  • Perseverance
  • Focus
  • Nonverbal Communication
  • Collaboration
  • Dedication
  • Accountability
  • Receiving Constructive Criticism

They made friends with the other cast members, developed professional relationships with the directors, and discovered a passion for theater. They are already asking about the next stage opportunity.  As we are not connected to a charter school, this is a little harder than it seems.

Due to the contract agreement, I am unable to share a video of their performance.  It was an incredible experience, however, and the kids continue to share their humorous tales of backstage antics.  I know we will be singing Willy Wonka Jr songs for many months, if not years, to come.

Peter Pan Drama Production

In January, Sweetie enrolled in a drama class taught by another homeschool mom with extensive experience in performing arts.  The class met once a week on Monday afternoons for rehearsals.  The play was an adaptation of the timeless story of Peter Pan, the Lost Boys, Tinkerbell, and the other fairies in Neverland.
The girls were also able to choose their own colors and thereby create a costume of their own design, providing another opportunity for the students to take part in all aspects of a drama production.  Sweetie chose yellow of course and we delighted in adding small elements that hinted of her passion for nature small flowers were sprinkled across her wings and petal skirt.
Prior to casting, the students were asked to prepare a charade of an historical person.  At the time, we were reading a biography of Marie Curie so naturally, Sweetie selected her.  As a result, Sweetie was selected to play the part of Breena, a clumsy fairy with a passion for science.  Each of the girls’ characters brought out something of their true personality … thereby allowing them to focus on being comfortable on stage and memorizing their lines, rather than on creating the allusion of a another character.  As this was a beginning drama class, I thought this was wonderful.
The script was given out in segments and the kids were expected to practice at home to memorize their lines.  Though tears did flow on occasion, this was a wonderful life experience with deadlines and expectations.
Performance night and we were delighted that Grandma Raandi and her swim coach, Luanna, and Luanna’s daughter, Jenny, could all attend.  It was wonderful to share the experience and to know that she had a large and supportive cheering section in the audience.
Everyone’s performance was enjoyable and though a few forgot lines and a scene was even omitted by mistake, we were all very proud.  After the cast took a bow, the teacher gave each of the girls a rose, a very thoughtful token of appreciation for their hard work.
I hope that she’ll consider taking part again.  It was so fun to watch her on stage.  Her voice was strong and her performance was spot on.  I am indeed a very proud mama.  🙂