Teaching Teachers and Visiting Students

By: Edward Daranyi

Last week I spent an incredible day with teachers from the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario in London. The theme of the day was introducing drama into the K-8 (kindergarten to Grade 8) classroom, and we explored how teachers can incorporate drama exercises and pedagogy into and across the curriculum.

My goal was to provide strategies they could use right away in their classrooms. We worked with text and imagery from Shakespeare and extended this to include classroom novel studies, poetry, music and art that the teachers were already using.

We played some fantastic warm-up games and used focus exercises to build confidence and promote inclusivity. The teachers brainstormed ways of incorporating these techniques into their own classrooms and shared with each other possible solutions to the barriers that they might face. We shared resources that are available to teachers, such as books, multimedia sites and various websites, including the Festival’s. Teachers left invigorated and ready to tackle the next challenge.

I left exhausted, but enjoyed an evening at the Grand Theatre in London and then drove to Montreal to witness the first-year “vocal masques” at the National Theatre School of Canada. Vocal masque started as a 16th-century court entertainment; nowadays it’s a one-person performance of original material based on a theme.

The first-year class was amazing! They were guided through the process by Festival alumni Damien Atkins and Paul Dunn, who have been teaching this part of the NTS curriculum for five years. Afterwards, I had a Shakespeare School reunion with former students from the professional session of our summer camp who now attend NTS, and said hello to Jane Gooderham, NTS’s Head of Voice and a Festival coaching team member.

And I made it back home to Stratford for Sunday dinner! Next up will be determining the Stratford Challenge shortlist and reviewing audition tapes for this year’s Theatre Performance Intensive.

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