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Artists in the Classroom

Do you find teaching Shakespeare daunting?
Do you get tongue-tied tackling Iambic Pentameter?
Do your students say Shakespeare is boring or too hard?

If you answered yes to any of these,
an Artist in the Classroom Residency is for you!

Let us breathe new life into your Shakespeare curriculum.
Artists in the Classroom workshops and residencies actively engage students in an exploration of Shakespeare’s language and plays. Our interactive lesson plans get students acting out Shakespeare, investigating the language and discovering personal connections to the plays.

Introductory Workshops

Shakespeare’s World: Discover the world of Elizabethan England through improvisation. Learn about William Shakespeare and the Globe theatre, and discover how to create characters with your bodies, voices and imagination. The residency will culminate with students performing historic characters.

Acting Shakespeare: Explore Shakespeare’s language and classical acting techniques. Students practice making bold, expressive acting choices and interpreting Shakespeare’s text.

Shakespeare’s Text: Investigate how Shakespeare directs actors through the structure and rhythm of his text. Examine the differences between verse and prose, and discover when Shakespeare chooses to write in each form. Explore iambic pentameter and paraphrasing and learn a process for analyzing Shakespeare’s text.

Stage Combat: Discover how choreographed violence tells a story and reveals character. Students will explore the fundamentals of unarmed stage combat including safe partnering, eye contact and distance. They will also learn several unarmed techniques including hair pulls, slaps, knaps, punches and falls – all for the stage, of course!

Scene Study: Studying one scene from the play, participants will investigate how Shakespeare directs actors through internal stage directions hidden in the dialogue. The workshops will culminate with students performing the scene.

Introduction to a Shakespeare play of your choosing: Explore the plot and characters of the play students are studying. Students will create characters based on information in the text and explore storytelling through creative tableaus. The workshop culminates with students acting out the plot of the play.

Page to Stage: Explore a theatrical design process for bringing a Shakespeare play to life on stage. Students will use themes in a Shakespeare play to ignite their imagination and inspire a modern concept for the production. They will explore the art of costume, set and sound design and gain the skills to design a production of their own.


In-School Residencies

All residency descriptions can range in length and can be tailored to meet the specific needs of your students, standards and curriculum.


For Elementary Schools (Grades 3-5)

Shakespeare’s World: Journey through the world of Elizabethan England! During this residency participants will be introduced to the historical background of Shakespeare’s life and times giving them a context for understanding his plays. Activities include: drawing the Globe theatre and creating a map of a typical village, reading and performing short scenes, building props, drawing costumes, writing short stories based on the period, and creating and role playing historic characters.

Shakespeare’s Stories: Explore the plot, themes and characters in one of Shakespeare’s plays with a focus on the playwright’s story and the craft of theatrical story telling. Students will engage in improvisations, tableau exercises and character creation. The residency culminates with a class written and illustrated story book.

How to be a Bard: Follow in William Shakespeare’s footsteps! Participants will investigate William Shakespeare’s character archetypes and writing style and explore their own writing styles. Class activities will alternate between reading, discussing, and performing Shakespeare. The residency will culminate with students performing a combination of Shakespeare’s work and their own original pieces.

For Middle Schools (Grades 6-8)

Shakespeare’s Themes: Examine a major dramatic theme throughout the canon of Shakespeare’s work. Students will investigate difference between plot and theme and character archetypes. The residency culminates with students performing scenes from Shakespeare’s plays. Themes to choose from are: Magic, Clowns, The World of the Court, The World of the Forest, Shipwrecks, Heroes, Villains and Family Feuds.

Shakespeare’s Characters: Bring William Shakespeare’s famous characters to life! Students delve into Shakespeare’s language and explore a variety of characters. Students will analyze and interpret Shakespeare’s text and create a fully realized character. Activities include: paraphrasing and performing speeches, creating characters through movement activities, designing character’s homes, costumes and props, writing in a character’s voice and researching historical characters. The residency culminates with students performing Shakespearean monologues.

Playing Shakespeare: Investigating Shakespeare’s text for clues, students discover secret stage directions and expressive acting choices. Through these interactive workshops, your students develop confidence and collaborate as an ensemble to tell a story onstage.  The residency culminates with students performing scenes or monologues from the play they are studying in your classroom.

For High Schools (Grades 9-12)

Shakespeare’s Language: Explore the rhythm and structure of Shakespeare’s language and compare it to modern day music and spoken word artists. Students engage in thorough text analysis examining the verse and prose, iambic pentameter, paraphrasing, operative words and a process for analyzing Shakespeare’s text.

Acting Shakespeare: Discover how Shakespeare directs the actor through a secret code in the text and learn classical acting techniques designed to find freedom and expression with Shakespeare’s text. The residency will culminate with students performing scenes.

Text Alive! is a free semester-long arts integration program that culminates with students performing on stage at Shakespeare Theatre Company. Public School English and Theatre Teachers in D.C., Maryland and Virginia are invited to apply!

For more information, contact Vanessa Hope, STC’s School Programs Manager, by email or call the Education Hotline at 202.547.5688 .

Current Partners Include:

  • DC Billingual: 4th graders perform a Shakespeare play annually with help from STC Teaching Artists
  • LaSalle-Backus Elementary School: A full year after school program culminating with a performance
  • Taylor Elementary School: 5th graders participated in an eight-week arts integration residency
  • Thomas Pyle Middle School: Playing Shakespeare residences with 6th graders studying The Comedy of Errors, 7th graders studying A Midsummer Night’s Dream and 8th graders studying As You Like It.
  • Bethesda Chevy Chase and Westlake High School: 9th grades explored Romeo & Juliet with STC teaching artists.
  • St. Veronica’s Catholic School: 6th graders studied stage combat and Julius Caesar
  • Wootton High School: 9th graders explore stage combat and Romeo & Juliet while 10th graders explore Commedia del’Arte and Much Ado About Nothing.