Why See an ASC Peformance?
Because, simply put, the play that you teach to your students is the play that your students will see.
As you no doubt already know, on the page Shakespeare’s complex language can seem overwhelming for students. That’s why it can be invaluable for them to remember that Shakespeare’s plays were originally written to be seen and heard, rather than just read in a book. To be truly understood, it needs the inflection and delivery of an actor whose job is to communicate the playwright’s message directly to the listener in as clear and engaging a way as possible. And fortunately, that’s exactly what The Atlanta Shakespeare Company (ASC) gives you.
ASC specializes in a theatrical approach called ‘Original Practice.’ Whether the company presents an original piece, an American classic, or a timeless masterpiece by William Shakespeare, each production is a process that begins with the way the play was originally staged in its own time and ends with a modern audience experiencing the play in a manner consistent with its creator's original intent. Furthermore, we believe that the most important part of our job is to make the words of the playwright come alive and to explore that message with you rather than merely reciting it “at” you. In Shakespeare’s case, we like to call this exploration the “communion of actor, audience, and playwright through poetry.”
We hear from teachers again and again that ‘Original Practice’ Shakespearean productions are an excellent choice for students, particularly for students who are new to Shakespeare or witnessing Shakespeare in performance for the first time. This is true for a couple of reasons:
First of all, our efforts to honor the original playing conditions of Shakespeare’s own company guide us to set each Shakespearean production in Renaissance Europe. Against the backdrop of our Elizabethan-style playhouse stage, our productions feature period costumes, live period music, and thrilling sword fights. This means that when Rosalind wonders what to do with her ‘doublet and hose,’ she’s actually wearing a doublet and hose. When characters challenge one another to draw their swords, they actually have period weaponry. When a king calls for a song to be played on a lute, chances are he’s referring to an actual lute.
We believe that turning Macbeth’s characters into 1980s businessmen or performing a play on an exquisitely-designed arctic wilderness landscape can be a really cool experience for teachers, scholars, theatre practitioners and audiences who are already comfortable with Shakespeare’s work (and trust us, we have seen some very cool productions like that!) In our experience, however, the Original Practice agreement between what’s mentioned in the text and what appears in the production can be extremely helpful for students who are still grappling with Shakespeare’s countless references to Elizabethan society and the 16th-century perspective from which he wrote, making it easier for them to connect with Shakespeare’s language itself.
Another element that makes ASC productions especially student-friendly is our actors’ unique performance style. Dynamic actors with a deep connection to Shakespeare’s text will wow your students with the energy and immediacy of their performances and their clarity and command of language. Students will feel the performers’ excitement, experience the stories with them, and in true Elizabethan fashion, they will always be included in the joke. Here at the Shakespeare Tavern®, even though you as an audience member don’t have specific “lines” to say, we view Shakespeare’s text as a conversation rather than a lecture. You are an active part of that conversation, and in our experience, that goes a long way towards making Shakespeare’s language accessible and clear.
The final reason to bring your students to an ASC performance? Because, quite simply, you will be treating your students to the same production, featuring the same actors, that we present to our evening patrons. No abridgements, ‘B-team’ actors or drastically reduced versions here!
Here's a taste of what we do:
Macbeth Fall 2007
King John Nov 2007
Macbeth Fall 2007