Imprimis: Links and Tidbits, 3 December

This week in Imprimis: the new RSC theatre, the value of the humanities and Shakespeare, and some essays and tools relevant to several of the plays.

  • Ian Richardson’s ashes have a permanent home in the new RSC building. Sarah says: Puts me in mind of the theatre ghosts I have worked with (or against) in the past. In my first theatre position, there was “The Toe” — apparently one of the workers had an accident in the construction process and left a little something behind. This something had an unfortunate habit of overheating the lighting system in the middle of a show and throwing us into dense darkness. At the second theatre I worked in, “Marie” was responsible for all the troubles we came into contact with… until one year, at Halloween, when we invited her to help us with a haunted house. I will be interested to hear what Ian Richardson does for the new Stratford theatre… or, just, what he is blamed for.
  • Speaking of the new RSC Theatre… Jonathan Bate blogs about it, discussing the thrust stage versus proscenium-style. Sarah says: Huge fan of Jonathan Bate, huger fan of what he says here about the new RSC space! Come for a visit, Professor Bate. We think you might like it.
  • A new teacher training program is hitting the roads in 8 states, aiming to transform teacher training to be more like that undertaken in medical school. Sarah says: Yay for changes in teacher education! Our own partner program at MBC is already working on a model like this one. Though the class is currently limited to one semester, the students have many authentic opportunities for practice and feedback. I hope this catches on, because, while I can only speak for myself, teacher education has been severely lacking in the valuable experiences that will keep teachers in the classroom.
  • In what’s become a bit of a running theme on Imprimis, we have another article on Shakespeare and Economics… Or, the economics of getting rid of Shakespeare. Sarah says: I’ve learned a lot this week about the value of money vs the value of life. A good life is priceless. What kind of life can we lead without art?
  • Along those lines, another author takes up the cause of the humanities: “Yet it is within the humanities that students are most apt to develop writing and critical thinking skills — where they will in essence teach themselves how to learn. The humanities also engage students in the weighing and testing of values, and help them ponder what it means to be human. These things are not only the proper heart and soul of an education; paradoxically, they create the kind of thinkers and lifelong learners so badly needed int he workplace and government.” (Emphasis Sarah’s). Sarah says: Only if leaders listen… consider Bloomberg’s appointment of a “business” leader to head NYC schools. I hope that she will not forget the value of the arts and intangibles to the human soul, psyche, and brain.
  • A new study at the University of South Africa says that children who grow up in households where books are plentiful go further in school than those without books, regardless of the parents’ education, the relative wealth or political climate of the nation the child is born into, or the parents’ occupations. This study may not be Shakespeare-related, but we certainly advocate reading to children and fostering a love of a books from an early age.
  • Check out this diagram of the relationships in Hamlet. Sarah says: It’s a bit mathematical, but fun. For me it emphasizes how much easier it is to appreciate Shakespeare if we treat his plays as, well, plays. When we see Hamlet and Gertrude onstage we get what this diagram tries to express much more easily.
  • A blog has a nice essay on Shakespeare’s Macbeth versus the historical Macbeth.
  • And, Twelfth Night Theatre has a blog post on the importance of Margaret in Richard III. Cass says: I found this post particularly relevant, as we’re about to head into an Actors’ Renaissance Season with Henry VI, Part 3.
  • Here’s another interesting essay, this one about four of Shakespeare’s women who break the assumed traditional mold. Cass says: I particularly enjoy what this essay has to say about Cleopatra, in particular — but then, I have a particular affection for her.
  • Looking for a New Year’s resolution? Why not commit to the Shakespeare Reading Challenge? Cass says: I think this is a great idea, but why stop there? The highest bracket only covers a third of the plays! For the truly intrepid (or, you know, graduate students), I propose the Jaques level, if you read 24 plays, the Beatrice level, if you read 32, and the Prince of Denmark level, if you read all the official cannon, plus Two Noble Kinsmen, Q1 Hamlet, the apocryphal Edward III, and all the sonnets and poems. Sarah says: How about a challenge for seeing the plays? The ASC alone could get you almost to Henry V level!
  • Finally, here’s a great tool if you’re someone (like us) who likes to play with Shakespeare’s words — a useful and accessible concordance.

I just noticed that this is the 50th post in the education blog. Thanks for reading, everyone!