Saturday, July 15, 2006

Reading, Being Behind, and Planning for The Tempest

I know how I got behind, of course, enjoying myself way too much on my trip and all.

And I spent most of yesterday reading Octavia Butler's Kindred for my reading group. That woman can WRITE! Why is it that a good novel (or play) compels me to keep reading? For me, it's all about the plot! What's happening next, and how interesting is it?

Then language, characterization, yep, those are nice, too. But I really like plots. (No wonder I'm so much slower at reading theory and criticism?)

I have a conference thing to go to next week, and while one of the departmental administrative folks made my plane reservations (while I was away! How much does she rock?), I still have to figure out how to get myself to the big city airport without spending a ton of money parking my car and such. There's a shuttle, but it takes forever, and blah blah blah.

And as soon as I get back, I have a thing to do for a summer Shakespeare "camp" thing for high school students. I did it for the first time last year, and it was more fun than I would have imagined, so I'm up again this year. We're doing The Tempest, which should be a blast!

But I need to be completely prepped, at least for the first day, before I leave for this conference.

I've got two basic strategies for starting out when I teach the play, but I can't do both on the same day at that same time.

The first is more theatrical: The play starts with a HUGE storm. So I have volunteers to take parts to say lines. Then I assign everyone else in the group to make one of several sounds when I point to their area: swooshy storm sounds, drum on the desk thunder sounds, and so forth.

We do the first scene, with me trying to constantly point to the noise groups so that the speakers really have to work to get out their lines. THAT should work really well in this space (the theater) and with this crowd (self-selected students who want to be in the play).

We talk a bit about the storm, and how to make storm sounds for real on stage and stuff, and then start the second scene. About the first thing we learn in the second scene is that the first is a total fake. It was a fake storm. The problem with a fake storm in a theater is that you can't tell if it's supposed to be a real theatrical storm, or if it's a fake one. So the play starts out by posing a metatheatrical problem, and then pushes on that problem throughout.

Now that I'm thinking about it, I think we'll start there, with that way, and I'll save the other starting mode for the second or third day. See, freewriting really IS useful! Thanks, all!


  1. I love your storm exercise! It leads students from something fun to an intellectual problem - I'm all for benignly tricking them like that...;)

  2. You could check the price of a one-way rental car. That is what I did last week going into LAX for my Hawaii trip. The shuttle was more than the rental! I paid around $75.00. Plus when you return the rental, the rental car has a shuttle (free) that drops you off at your terminal.

    When we did the Tempest in college, we all had to stand up and rock back and forth, hold on to things and such! It is one of my favorites. I did a paper on it. I hate business but I argued that Prospero runs his island like a corporate CEO. Our school promotes interdisciplinary topics.

    I have the Norton Critical Edition of The Tempest. I appreciate the criticisms in the back.

    Oh yeah, Caliban......what an example of dehumanizing.