Meredith McMath, the artistic director at Aurora Studio Theatre, believes that Shakespeare is for everyone, from royal to rustic. To that end she has organized a two-part event at Cascades Library, May 17 and 24, called "Royals & Rustics" that will help high-school students not only learn about Shakespeare but also perform and direct it. The two classes will feature professional Shakespearean actors Bolton Marsh, Carolyn Christensen and Ben Huntington, along with McMath, as they work through scenes and teach high- schoolers, or anyone else who wants to attend, all about Shakespeare.
"We created it for high-school students and we created it to interest them in Shakespeare in a new way," said McMath. "They will get an idea of how Elizabethan theater use to be and see how Shakespeare didnï¿½t just write for the upper class but for everyone."
THE FIRST COURSE will take place May 17, from 1-4 p.m., and will feature a chance for students to learn a little bit about how Shakespeare use to be performed and how they can better perform his works. Marsh will share some of his experiences and McMath will work with students on voice projection and characterization.
"Bolton Marsh has done a lot of professional theater and he is an amazing and well versed Shakespearean actor," said McMath. "Weï¿½re going to be doing some really fun exercises."
Marsh will also be available to work with students on monologues from "A Midsummer Night's Dream." Students can select a monologue from that work of any length and have an opportunity to learn professional audition techniques.
The second course, taking place May 24, from 1-4 p.m., will feature a group of improvisational games and performance of five short scenes from "A Midsummer Night's Dream" by Huntington and Christensen. Students will be able to influence the scenes by suggesting different ways to perform it or stage it. This allows for the students to not only direct a scene but also demonstrates Shakespeareï¿½s continued relevance said McMath. The day concludes with students trying a few of the scenes themselves and the two actors performing some more outlandish scenarios like acting through the scene like pirates. Also featured will be some improv games and other ways to improve an actorï¿½s performance.
"Weï¿½re trying to show why Shakespeare is so entertaining and fun," said McMath. "The students really get into these things."
While this is the first time Aurora has offered the full program they have taught many courses like this with bits and pieces from their previous classes influencing this one. McMath hopes that students not only learn how to perform Shakespeare but also learn about his history. Pointing to the fact that many people see Shakespeare as high art meant for an elite few, McMath hopes that students realize that Shakespeare wrote and performed for both the rich and poor. The classes are designed around expressing this idea and showing that Shakespeareï¿½s plays can be fun for anyone.