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Shakespeare Artist-in-Residence Coaches Students

Students performed scenes from “The Taming of the Shrew.” (Photo by Katharine Sipio)

David Pica, an actor with The Philadelphia Shakespeare Theatre, spent a week on campus teaching students how to see Shakespeare’s works the way they were meant to be, on the stage.

“These plays are not meant to be read, they are meant to be performed,” David said. “Acting it out brings a new cerebral understanding of the play. Today a student had an aha moment, saying ‘oh so that is what he meant there,’ and I could say yes,” he explained. “I loved being in the classroom for that.”

Students have benefited from his collaboration on scenes from The Taming of the Shrew. David said he has been running scenes with students as a facilitator and director, teaching the basics of theater, such as blocking and iambic pentameter so students can see how the play should look and sound.

“David explained to our class what we should do when acting out the scenes,” said Sophia Sharareh ’21. “Watching the physical actions helped me to understand the text differently and change my perspective. Understanding it was not as hard as I thought it would be.”

The Philadelphia Shakespeare Theatre advertises the program as an opportunity for students to learn key theatrical concepts. The actor turns the classroom into a Shakespearean stage with in-depth activities in specially designed curriculum meant to enhance student understanding of the plays.

Students in the program can perfect their scenes using intensive theater training sessions such as character development, period movement, fight combat, and performance preparation.

Sarah Wells Pollard ’21 said working with David was helpful. “It gives me a better sense of the relationships between characters, and other ways the scenes can be interpreted from text. It was a fun experience for me.”

David said he has enjoyed his experience on campus. He liked being able to bring the play into the realm of the three-dimensional for students. David instructed students by drawing from his experience acting in many Shakespeare plays. Among his many credits are Hamlet, Macbeth, Love’s Labor’s Lost, Henry V, and Measure for Measure. He recently finished Red Velvet at the Lantern Theater Company of Philadelphia, a play about the first African American man to play Othello in 1883 in London.

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