Saturday, December 10, 2011

Shakespeare Engaged!

I think our event last night was a success. We had about 80 people there, counting our classmates. And everything and everybody looked good, there weren't any embarrassing "technical difficulties," and the audience seemed to really enjoy our program.

I really liked the ways we involved the audience. Professor Burton's idea to have the audience share their "Shakespeare testimonies" was a great way to kick off the evening, and a good segue into sharing the blogs. We learned that Shakespeare is relevant to anything, whether it's serving the homeless, the nesting habits of cuckoo birds or cycling in the city of Boston.

After Averill's play, during the time that the audience could ask questions of the performers and documentary filmmakers, the idea came to me to ask the audience what they thought of seeing their family and friends up there on stage doing Shakespeare. I'm glad I thought of that, because I think it was another way for the audience to share the experience and to make the engagement a two-way street. And a few commented on how surprised and impressed they were with their friends and family and the production in general. Most people probably thought, "Class project? Yay [sarcastically]." They might have felt like they were watching their 12-year-old children playing "Hot Cross Buns" in a middle school concert, with squeaky clarinets and everything. But the actors did more than just memorize a few lines, and the documentary filmmakers did more than just turn on cameras.

I was very proud of everybody's projects. I was thinking about group projects I've done in the past, and I could tell that in this Shakespeare class, everybody worked hard. It didn't seem like there was anybody who did the minimum and then get their name put on the assignment anyway. Everybody put their heart and soul into it. And it was one of those few times when a group project actually made us all friends with each other.

Everything but the music video is available online. And everything will be put up on our Engaging Shakespeare website soon. (If that link doesn't work, try this one.)

Less Matter More Art

The group also got quite a response from their artwork posted on Deviant Art, and posted their lesson plans on a site called Connexions.

Hamlet, the Prince of Denmark: An Abridged Audiobook
(There's some overlap during the first minute of the audio, so skip ahead)

Love's Labours

The World's a Stage
Although the music video isn't online yet, here's a clip from it.

Very cool stuff.


The four learning outcomes for the course were 1) to gain Shakespeare literacy, 2) to critically analyze Shakespeare, 3) to engage Shakespeare creatively and 4) to share Shakespeare.

1) With a whole course devoted to Shakespeare, the themes and methods woven among all of Shakespeare's works were more evident to me. The text became more interesting than intimidating. I still need a little help from class or from sites like Shmoop and Sparknotes. But after reading those notes I can read the original Shakespeare and appreciate the way he said it more than the way Shmoop or Sparknotes said it.

2) I think most of my critical analysis has been done vicariously through classmates, in class discussions and in our Engaging Shakespeare night. But I have tried harder to critically analyze the text than I did earlier this semester. Earlier I blogged about the word play in Love's Labours Lost, to try and look at the words and writing itself.

Maybe I haven't done very much literary analysis, but I have tried to figure out why Shakespeare did what he did, and why he chose the themes he did. Most recently I did this type of analysis with King Lear.

3) Engaging Shakespeare creatively has been the easiest for me. I try to be creative with everything I do, especially in a literature class like this that opens itself up to creativity. During this second half of the semester my creative efforts were focused more on "Engaging Shakespeare" than on reading plays, but I tried to be creative with our presentation.

Exhibit A - I designed this logo for the event:

4) Other than tweeting and Facebooking about the Engaging Shakespeare event, I failed at this. I had intentions to live tweet King Lear, but haven't done it yet. Maybe I still will sometime during finals week.

I did do a lot to share Engaging Shakespeare over the Internet. I made a Facebook group and invited any Facebook friends who are at or around BYU, and I tweeted through my account and The Daily Universe account as often as I thought I could get away with.

But I'm not sure if all of that was really affected. It would have been interesting to find out how many people came to our event because of Facebook or Twitter. My guess is that most (if not all) people found out through more personal contact, like being invited by a spouse/boyfriend/girlfriend/roommate/friend, etc.

It will be exciting to see the future of our Engaging Shakespeare site. As more and more people find our projects over YouTube, Vimeo or Connexions, I hope the dialogue continues.


I thoroughly enjoyed this class and it will be among my favorite memories of being a BYU student. Besides learning about Shakespeare or literature, I gained knowledge and experience that I'm sure will help me in multiple ways in the future.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Free publicity

"Engaging Shakespeare" is in The Daily Universe today!

Shakespeare: Not just for the 17th century

Of course, I used my connections with the paper. But all I did was suggest the idea to the campus desk editors. It was everyone else who decided to assign the story, write it, take photos and put it on the front page. So it's not just me commandeering the Universe. :)

Photo by Luke Hansen
Averill and Anthony look good on the front page!

At this point, we have 36 people who have RSVP'd on the Facebook event page. And most of them are members of our class. But, I did get a response from a teacher at Summit Academy in Draper who was interested in bringing her ninth and tenth graders. I hope to see them there!

And I'm sure we'll get a few more who don't RSVP on Facebook, of course. I just hope there's the perfect number of people. I sent hundreds of emails, tweeted from my account and The Daily Universe account, and we're in the newspaper, but pair that with the short notice and the fact that it takes place on a Friday night during the holiday season and finals season, and I think it will all balance out.

Photo by Luke Hansen
We're about to run through a dress rehearsal for class today. Wish us luck!


Tuesday, December 6, 2011


We have some more progress to report!

Austin has been working hard on the website, and we have something ready for people to see. It's still under construction, and we'll be adding more as the week goes on. But here it is:

Engaging Shakespeare

I also started a Facebook event and I'm trying to spread the word that way. Stop by and RSVP!

Engaging Shakespeare Facebook event

And we've got a couple more sneak peeks for you!

The music video:

And another documentary clip:

I also put together this flyer:

Then I gathered as many email addresses as I could from English departments at BYU, Utah Valley University, Provo High School and Timpview High School.

So we'll see what happens!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Progress Report on 'Engaging Shakespeare'

So I actually have some progress to report in the final project!

Austin, Professor Burton and I have come up with more details.

First of all, the name of our event will be Engaging Shakespeare. The event is about more than just showing off our talents and what we've learned about Shakespeare, it's more of a two-way thing. We're hoping for a dialogue and a foundation that can be built upon, something that will take a life of its own after this semester is over.

That's where the website will become more important. The website will be about promoting this event, but it will also be the home of our various projects and allow room for people to add to them.

We've also got details about the event itself:

Friday, Dec. 9
7 p.m.
B192 JFSB (the Education in Zion theater)

Here's what we'll be presenting that night:

- A mini-play adaptation of Shakespeare, Love's Labours, presented by Averill and her troupe of troubadours, based on Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet and Love's Labours Lost.

- A documentary, Love's Labours: A Journey, showing the behind-the-scenes of Averill's mini-play, directed by Kelsie

Check out this preview!

Documentary sneak peak from Shakespeare on Vimeo.

- A music video with original lyrics! directed by Kara (Check out this blog tracking their progress)

- Hamlet, the Prince of Denmark: The Abridged Audiobook, directed by Amanda

- Less Matter, More Art, a presentation of art with lesson plans for teaching Shakespeare and art in schools, directed by Mason and Cassandra

It's going to be totally awesome.

I'll be sure to post about our website once it's up, and blog, tweet and Facebook about it like crazy. But until then, I'll just publicize from here:

Come to Engaging Shakespeare! Next Friday night! Take a break from studying for finals and enjoy Shakespeare and/or student-made artwork! Tell all your friends!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Long time no blog

Hey Shakespeare fans,

It's literally been 11 days since I last updated ye olde Shakespeare blog. I don't really have a good excuse, other than that I've been busier that normal. But I finally turned in my 20-page paper for my political science class, and I got through today's crazy day at The Daily Universe ... so I'm ready to talk Shakespeare.

Since my last foray into Shakespeare and social media, not a whole lot has happened. No one responded to any of my tweets. I did get Janet Somerville to follow me on both her personal Twitter account and her literature teacher account. Unfortunately, I haven't tweeted about Shakespeare since! So I've probably disappointed her, haha.

My new plan is to "live tweet" while I continue reading King Lear. My live blogging for Julius Caesar was a lot of fun, but also a lot of work. I'm hoping that live tweeting will be less effort and yet have more of an audience. I'll just be sure to add #Shakespeare and #KingLear to all my tweets, and then anyone who happens to be looking for Shakespeare and King Lear tweets will find mine. There's a smaller chance that someone would come across my blog.

So, we'll see how it goes.

Most of my energy for this Shakespeare class lately has been the final project. Austin and I have been assigned to get the word out about all the other final projects, and put together an event to show them off. It's been fun to collaborate and get ideas. Austin will design a website that will preview everybody's projects. And we're planning on a "Shakespeare night" on Friday, December 9. You should all come! Mark your calendars!

Maybe you can help me with something.

What should we call this event? I've been calling it "Shakespeare night" or "the event" in my head, but we should come up with something catchier. A lot of our class has been focused on blogging and digital social media, and that's something we would be showing off for the event. So maybe "Digital Shakespeare"? Or "Cyber Shakespeare"? ("Cyber Shakespeare" would be better, with the alliteration and all.) And I could draw a logo of a cool, cartoon Shakespeare with a smart phone and an iPad or something like that. What do you think? Or what other ideas can you think of?

Monday, November 7, 2011

King Lear and the Twitter

In going over my midterm progress with Professor Burton last week, he challenged me to broadcast my blog and my views on Shakespeare out into the real cyber world. A blog might be considered social media, but usually it's just a one-sided conversation unless people are brought to it. A blog is like a tree that falls in the forest and doesn't make a sound unless someone is there to hear it.

So I'm trying to look for Twitter conversations about #KingLear to jump into. My plan for now is to see what conversations are already going on, and see if I can add to them and also link to my blog. We'll see how it works.

Here's what I've got so far:

1) I found someone named @NaadiShirodkar who compared herself to Cordelia:

It looks like she wasn't really talking about Shakespeare, but she must be at least familiar enough with King Lear to have Cordelia pop into her mind when she felt like expressing some personal frustration unrelated to Shakespeare. Interesting. And I wonder what she'll think of my blog post if she reads it. Will it help her feel better about being a "good character" and knowing that they win out in the end?

2) A literature teacher posed a question that a lot of people responded to. So I gave an answer as well.

You can read other responses to @TeenBoyLitCrit's question by clicking here.

3) I saw a hashtag going around for #SixWordShakespeare or #6WordShakespeare. Some of them are pretty funny (although beware of non-BYU-appropriate language). I did my best to add to the conversation with a link to my blog post.

So, we'll see if the Twitterverse answers me.

Here are some other funny or interesting tweets I saw about King Lear.

1) This is from that same literature teacher who tweets for @TeenBoyLitCrit:

2) Here are couple of #SixWordShakespeare tweets, one funny and one interesting:

3) And somebody tweeted a link to some King Lear-related comics. They're only sorta funny, but Anthony especially might get a kick out of the the one titled "Cameo."

Was blind, but now, I see

The figurative meaning of "sight" and "vision" in King Lear is an obvious message that Shakespeare wants to get across. But I still wanted to share something I thought was cool about it anyway.

Lear: Out of my sight!
Earl of Kent: See better, Lear, and let me still remain
The true blank of thine eye.

I noticed the juxtaposition of these two lines, how King Lear is commanding Kent to do something and Kent is commanding King Lear to do the exact opposite. It's easier to see the "command" if you understand a Spanish translation:

Lear: Sal afuera de mi vista!

Conde de Kent: Vea mejor, Lear, y déjeme que yo siga como el marco verdadero de su ojo.

The words in bold are in Spanish command form.

So far, I don't see Kent as having an independent streak and wanting to rile up the king, like Paulina in The Winter's Tale. Kent seems like the kind of guy where if he is provoked, then something must be really wrong.

Beyond the actual action of the play, I think it's easy to see Kent as an embodiment of the voice of reason. Therefore, what King Lear is actually doing is telling reason to leave, and Kent is telling the king to use reason, and let it continue to be his primary focus.

How many times do we have reason staring us right in the face and yet we find a way to avoid it or ignore it? I can think of a few times when I have been guilty of it as well as family members of mine.

Another embodiment of reason is Cordelia. Did you notice that she doesn't do much to defend herself after King Lear lashes out at her? All she does is explain to the King of France what her father has done. I think it must be because, as the voice of reason, Cordelia knows reason will win out in the end (although, as we readers know, it wins out tragically).

Why do you think Shakespeare keeps Cordelia silent after her father's berating and banishing?