Senior Seminar: “Shakespeare on Love” Chicago Trip
According to Hamlet the “play’s the thing.” He couldn’t be more firm in his conviction that the actual performance of a text has the power to clarify and even rectify.Taking this instruction to heart the “Shakespeare on Love” Senior Seminar headed to Chicago so that they might better study the transition of the Bard’s work from page to stage. The object of their study: The Merry Wives of Windsor as performed by the world famous Chicago Shakespeare Theater.
For years now the “Shakespeare on Love” seminar has been traveling to Chicago to consider how a modern repertory theater mounts updated productions of Shakespeare’s plays. Previous trips have enjoyed performances of Much Ado About Nothing, Two Noble Kinsmen and Romeo and Juliet. This year’s production of The Merry Wives of Windsor featured one of Shakespeare’s lesser known and seldom performed plays. Legend has it that Queen Elizabeth I was so entertained by the scheming of “plump Jack” in Henry I & II that she required a sequel of Shakespeare. Though limited in its literary merit the play features Shakespeare’s common themes of spying, misperception and plotting gone terribly awry thanks to the “imposition hereditary ours,” which is to say, the common malady of being all too human.
This final lesson was the capstone of a seminar which focused on the finer points of Shakespeare studies, namely, the relationship between Shakespeare’s theatrical spaces and the plays, the pesky authorship controversy, vexed questions of textual transmission, and creative analysis of production choices. Over the course of the semester the students worked on speaking the speech following the guidance of Peter Hall in his Advice to Players of Shakespeare and John Barton from his famous master class videos. They formed acting companies and produced scenes from A Midsummer Night’s Dream. And they analyzed and performed sonnets. Perhaps most important, they learned that one always, only falls in love at first sight, because love is magic.
Traveling on the trip were Sena Duran, Lauren Middleton, FengMing Wan, Toni Piedmonte-Lang, Francesca Lupia, Janie Mortell, and Carol Apley. Thanks to Juliano Stewart and alumna Kit Randolph for joining the troupe. Special thanks to Darcy Lang (mother of Toni) for accompanying the group as a driver and chaperone.
— by English teacher and 10th Grade Prinicpal Mark Randolph