Artist-in-Residence Immerses Students in Shakespeare

Students perform scenes from The Taming of the Shrew on Wednesday, October 31, 2018. (Photo by Susan Quinn)

The freshman English classes supplemented their study of William Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew with a special treat: the opportunity to perform the scenes from the play with the support of a professional actor.

Cassandra Alexander, an actor and teaching artist from The Philadelphia Shakespeare Theatre, spent the last week in residence on campus. Cassandra, whose Shakespearean acting credits include A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Cymbeline, and Two Gentleman of Verona, coached the students on movement, breath, and making strong character choices. The work culminated with a performance on Wednesday, October 31, 2018.

“The English department is busy withdrawing into complete stereotypes of itself as we get carried away with the Bard,” said Colette Weber, head of the English department.

After all, Shakespeare intended his plays to be performed, not read. “I think performing Shakespeare makes all the difference. Often, moments in Shakespeare’s plays that seem incomprehensible on the page are utterly clear once you explore them physically,” said Cassandra. She explained that bringing the text to life reveals the humanity of the characters, as well as makes sense of Shakespeare’s particular breed of comedy.

Cassandra described her time at George School as “truly delightful,” and enjoyed watching the students make leaps and bounds in their confidence in the text. “Students are inquisitive and engaging, and they have really embraced the work,” she said. “Many have natural talents as actors, and it has been a joy to watch them create their own versions of these characters.”

For more Shakespeare, come see George School’s fall theater production, A Midsummer Night’s Dream on November 2 and 3, 2018 at 8:00 p.m. in Walton Auditorium.

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