Heather Wolpert-Gawron

Spontaneous Public Displays of Art

By on April 8, 2009

I can’t wait to show my 8th Grade Honors class this clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vq6b9bMBXpg.

It’s a great display of the act of spreading the arts publicly and on a huge scale.  

My students have been working all year on their “Spontaneous Shakespeare” scenes. (Cue “Mission Impossible” music) Their goal: to spontaneously appear in a public place and perform a scene from Shakespeare, spreading the works of The Bard as they go.

It all started with a shadow puppet Shakespeare show that I presented to them as a project-based learning opportunity.  The kids took it and ran.  With their enthusiasm leading the way, it soon morphed into this public explosion of learning.First, I assigned each group a scene from Shakespeare.  We spent time translating, blocking, and practicing.  Then each group needed to perform a “rough draft” in front of the class for notes and final advice.  At the time of their rough draft presentation, they turned in their “Who’s in on it?” document.  A parent or guardian that would be present for the performance signed this paper.  It as also signed by the owner/manager/librarian/etc. who agreed to let them perform including an agreed date and time.  That is, the audience is not in on the performance, but all possible powers-that-be are in on the gag.

So between April and May, the San Gabriel library, the local Boba shop, Applebee’s, various classrooms, and food courts will be overrun with “Spontaneous Shakespeare.”

The students have decided to plant ringers, trustworthy friends to laugh and applaud on cue.  For each group, there is also a student assigned to document the event on a digital camera.  We will use iMovie to edit the piece together and add music and sound effects. Some groups even have two kids tagging along as camera crew so that they can cut between the scene and audience reaction to their piece.

I don’t know how it will turn out, and I need to not worry about the end product.  “The end doesn’t justify the means” after all.   I mean, I’ve got San Gabriel a-buzz with Shakespeare.  And it’s a project the kids had a hand in designing.  There is more being learned here then I realized when I first assigned the project.  

I learned from their learning.  And that’s what being a teacher is all about.  Adieu.


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  1. Chris
    April 10, 2009

    I love this idea! I am so going to do a version of this with my 6th graders!

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