This past week, we took our summer interns to visit the Chesapeake Shakespeare Company to learn all about their upcoming season and some of their education programs for the school year. We were first greeted by Mr. Ron Heneghan, Director of Education, who gave us a tour and shared a little about the history of the building.
Mr. Heneghan gave us behind-the-scenes access where we learned about green rooms, touched costumes (did you say there are well over a 1,000 costumes??), and even got to view their new Ira Aldridge exhibit honoring the first black Shakespearian actor. We learned about how the building used to be a bank and that two original vaults now house the costume room and a family room!
After our tour, we were met with Troy Jennings, Education Manager, who shared with us this season’s lineup of school matinees which include Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet, Twelfth Night, and A Christmas Carol. There is not a bad seat in this Globe style theater that mirrors the setting originally used in Shakespeare’s plays. Students get up close to the actors and get immersed in scenes through creative lighting and exciting twists that keep the audience engaged. After each matinee, students get the chance to meet the actors and ask them questions about their characters or about their paths to acting.
While listening to the stomping feet from their summer camp program happing upstairs, we discussed how coming to see a Shakespeare play in person can have a lasting impact on students as they have a better understanding of the plot and character relationships. CSC offers teaching artist workshops that focus on listening, speaking, and reading comprehension. They also work with teachers prior to them visiting to set up ligthing cues to focus on key parts of the scene. Since schools are reading these plays in the classroom as part of curriculum requirements, the Chesapeake Shakespeare Company can fit seamlessly into the lesson plan where students can experience Shakespeare in person as it was intended to be!
We want to thank Chesapeake Shapespeare Company for inviting us and showing us around while sharing about all of their great prorgaming for the school year. For more information about their matinees, please visit: https://www.chesapeakeshakespeare.com/education-community/student-matinees-residencies/