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K-State Today

July 2, 2012

Camp Shakespeare sheds light on teaching the bard's work to high school students

Submitted by Communications and Marketing

The intimidating language of William Shakespeare's work can seem overwhelming to high school students, but a summer program at Kansas State University promises teachers helpful techniques, ideas and examples to help overcome students' perceptions.

Camp Shakespeare, a weeklong, expenses-paid workshop from July 9-12 for high school teachers, is in its second summer at the university. Don Hedrick, professor of English, serves as this year's camp director, with assistance from Charlotte MacFarland, associate professor of theater, and others in the Manhattan community. Together they will help teachers explore methods of teaching Shakespeare's work.

"Camp Shakespeare has a core staff of English and theater faculty at the high school and college levels, putting together a schedule of activities to enhance understanding of a subject too often assumed to be difficult," Hedrick said.

Although many students may view the language as difficult, Shakespeare's works have found their place in pop culture marketed toward teenagers. Adapted into modernized productions, some movies strayed away from the original dialogue, like "10 Things I Hate About You," a 1999 adaptation of Shakespeare's "Taming of the Shrew," while a few retained the Elizabethan English, such as in the 1996 production of "Romeo and Juliet" starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes.

"With the boom of interest in Shakespeare on film and stage, Camp Shakespeare is a terrific educational opportunity for a quick but in-depth immersion into Shakespeare," Hedrick said. "Teachers will learn how to bring Shakespeare's language to life in their own schools and communities."

"The English department is thrilled to sponsor a second Camp Shakespeare for Kansas high school teachers," said Karin Westman, English department head. "We are particularly grateful for the financial support of English alumna Helen Dupre and her husband Duke so we could once again underwrite the full cost of the workshop for the participating teachers. Additionally, funds from the Kansas Humanities Council allow us to enrich our programming and enlarge our audience, so members of the community can also learn more about Shakespeare and his plays."

Five camp events will be open to the public. These events, all free, include:

* A viewing of "Shakespeare Behind Bars" from 7-8:45 p.m. Monday, July 9, at the Manhattan Public Library. This award-winning documentary by Hank Rogerson and Jilann Spitzmiller follows the rehearsal of "The Tempest" by convicted felons in a medium-security prison. It emphasizes their personal identification with the play's theme of forgiveness.

* The lecture "Shakespeare for Young People" by Sarah Enloe, director of education at the American Shakespeare Center in Staunton, Va., from 7-8:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 10, at the Manhattan Public Library, 629 Poyntz Ave. The lecture will be followed by a panel discussion on how high school students learn and relate to the works of Shakespeare.

* Three presentations by Shakespeare experts will be from 2:30-4:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 11, at the Manhattan Arts Center, 1520 Poyntz Ave. Presenters and their presentations will be: Wendy Matlock, professor of English at K-State, "Medieval Shakespeare" from 2-2:30 p.m.; Michael Donnelly, professor of English at K-State, "Key Renaissance Thought for Shakespeare: Machiavelli and Castiglione" from 2:30 to 3 p.m.; and Sarah Enloe, "The Elizabethan Classroom," 3:15-4:30 p.m.

* Carole Levin, Willa Cather professor of history at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, will present "Gender, Marriage and the Queen in English Renaissance Culture and Shakespeare" from 7-8:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 11, at the Manhattan Public Library.

* Camp Shakespeare participants will present "'What is love?': Shakespeare's Love Poetry and Drama" to residents of Meadowlark Hills retirement community from 1:30-3 p.m. Thursday, July 12, at the Meadowlark Hills Community Center, 2121 Meadowlark Road.

Teachers registered to attend are from the following high schools: Chapman High School, Chapman; Crest High School, Colony; Chase County Junior Senior High School, Cottonwood Falls; Meade High School, Meade; Kansas School for the Deaf, Olathe; Palco High School, Palco; Rock Creek High School, St. George; City of Salina Arts and Humanities and Salina South High School, Salina; Shawnee Mission Northwest High School, Shawnee; and Solomon High School, Solomon.

All teachers attending the camp have received a complete sponsorship for the entire week.