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!