blaire – Los Angeles Drama Club

Shakespeare In Africa #5: Why I Won’t Correct Your Speech. Just Your Breath.

Or: How to put up a Shakespeare recital with 340 kids in Rural Botswana

This may sound like “shop talk” to outsiders, but there are things that are universal. Example: if you breathe…you might want to read on.

I tend to forget that how you breathe is how you live.

It’s been a few days of having “Miss Blaire” in class and now we are all working on our pieces: KK’s 5th Grade has Puck’s finals speech from A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Gertrude’s fourth grade class has 6 Iambic Pentameter Lines which they dramatically act out…First, Second and Third Graders have the Mirror Games, group theatre games, yoga…

Mr. Joel’s tweens are my concern — they’re immersed in a potential exam and getting to the next level — the neighborhing school. I sit in and watch Mr. Joel’s kids quietly mumble when sharing their superlative sentences. This room needed oxygen. Mr. Joel decides to call on me to make up a sentence. I throw back a curve ball:

“Can you all stand up? I would like to see how you breathe.”

I don’t know if he likes me now. But I don’t care because no one was breathing in there.

Eyes dart around. Whaaat?! I guide them in a group inhale and I watch where the air goes in their bodies. As I expected…they suck in their stomachs, raise their shoulders and puff out their chests! I suppose this is a a global thing. Especially with females. But it’s wrong.

I ask them to cross their arms over their chest and then breathe. It has no choice but to go into their bellies. I walk by each student as they breathe into their bellies and exhale. Definitely new for them.

With the new breath, I ask them to now…repeat the sentences they constructed. A noticable difference. Immediate improvement. Still no one was loud enough to be heard by the entire classroom. So I send them outside. One by one. Go outside and yell to us.

Twenty feet away, they call out their sentences after breathing into their bellies. Their voices suddenly boom. But that is only part of it. They are smiling — laughing — experiencing the power. This is how you do it!

I threaten Mr. Joel’s class: they will next speak Shakespeare — loud and clear — for a presentation at the end of the week. I give them Prospero’s speech from the Tempest to learn as a choral speech. I break it down, slowly and animated — what Prospero is saying and doing here- passing on his power, laying down his staff, as Shakespeare soon put down his pen after this play. This is about — goodbyes.

What happened inside this class in the course of my time here, really did fulfill my wildest dreams. That’s for the next installment.

                                                                        Behind me are lions you will never see.

I am now in Mma Wilson’s lively 4th grade class — this group of 30 nine year olds seem down for Tongue Twisters. We divide into Call/Response teams — and as easy as tongue twisters are to our kids, I realize the value in slowing everything down and breaking it into the most singulary components possible.

R/e/d lea/th/er!

That alone was hard. It was very hard. the “d” to “l” — it wasn’t happening. We spent a good 15 minutes just on: Red Leather. I thought how speedy we are in America. How surface-level things have gotten. How busy doing…what exactly? Here we are just deconstructing a tongue twister — spending a quarter of an hour on how to say “Red Leather” …..how were we going to get to the results:

RedLeatherYellowLeatherGreenLeatherPurpleLeather…!?

But we couldn’t get past Red Leather. The Hard Rs stopped everyone in their tracks. Try saying “purple leather” as a second language. After about 40 minutes of trial and error — suddenly —they get the hang of it — once I let go of the Hard R idea — they just flow and I figured as long as they breathe into the belly — then they can say it three times in one breath. Then four. Then five. They do!

                                                         Rrrrrr-ed. LLLLLeath….errrrrr….Wrong. 

I pointed to colors in the classroom that corresponded. What a fun way to learn what the color purple was in second language — inside a tongue twister. They want another one.

I-rish Wrist-watch. (Six times in one breath) What is an Irish Wristwatch?!

Once they learn what Ireland was, and the word wristwatch in English, they laugh so hard. “Madame, Where is an Irish wristwatch? Do you have one?” Now we jump back and forth between:

Redleatheryellowleathergreenleatherpurpleleather

to

IrishWristWatch

to

YouKnowYouNeedUniqueNewYork

to

ArticulatoryAgilityIsADesirableAbility

Mma Wilson’s class become Masters at the Tongue Twister. They learn them all and demand to perform them for the show —

                                                                           Backpacker’s Lodge View

On weekends, I was taken to a Backpackers Camp and Lodge where there is a central gathering place (the bar) and I found myself writing there when not raising eyebrows at European and South African tourists. My biggest eyebrow arch of all came when I heard an Irish man (drinking at the bar) correcting an African bartender on his pronounciation of the word “Cider” — I almost spit out my…cider? Here is the account, as it was happening:

“I am listening to an Irishman correct a local Botswani on how to say “Cider”. He is saying, it’s “Soy-Drr! Soy-Drr.” (Really, Irishman? Is it? Soy-Drr…) The bartender, whov was raised speaking English as a second language calls it “Sy-dah” in his dialect which by the way, is quite pleasing to the ear. Open vowels…open face…soft voice…I have a pretty extreme sensitivity to sound and sound currents. I could listen to Swana in my ear 24/7 and it would lilt me to a peaceful sleep. The hard R’s of this man’s Irish dialect are akin to American’s hard Rs — times ten. Never mind my preference of Sy-dah to Soy-drr….setting that aside…WHY ARE YOU CORRECTING PRONOUNCIATION AT ALL!? And would you correct a Bronx bartender for calling it Sway-duh or a Paris bartender for calling it Tschhhdeucchh? Would you? Think about it. I want to smack ye, ye little drunken goblin! Take yr Irish wristwatch and beat it…

(All right, it was my personal diary, there’s some strong opinions.) But right there I did have a revelation. I’m doing the same thing as that Irishman! In Mma Wilson’s class with the tongue twisters, I was forcing that hard R so they could be “understood” when they “go out in the global market.” Where did that come from!?

Chances are, they will not all move to America so why would I impose my understanding of how a consonant or vowel is pronounced AT ALL?! I don’t even LIKE hard R’s. This idea got in me somewhere — and was so deeply ingrained I wasn’t even aware I was allowed to question it!

                                                           My first Live Free-roaming Elephant Sighting

I return Monday to Mma Wilson’s class and we start the tongue twisters again. This time, I attempt to hear and speak in their English/Swana dialect — sounding something like this:

Reyd Lethah Yaylow Lethah Grrreeeen Lethah Puhpel Lethah

Much Bettah! Now I am mirroring what I am hearing from them — rather than “correcting” or altering the beauty of this dialect — Going foreward — message to Self —

Hear other English Language dialects and adjust accordingly — not make them adjust to yours. In another country, you’re the one with the “accent.”

The lesson goes further. Applying it to food, dress, customs, beliefs…. Are we not more enriched when we let a culture, a language…happen to us, versus imposing our “culture” — whatever that is — on our host country? Though I still am fuming over “Soy-drr” — I am concerned for the bigger picture. The flattening out of so many of our ancient cultures by globalization and homogenization and Instagramization and everything becoming Trader Joe’s….Stop!

                                                                Godfrey and I stop to help a man in distress

At lunch I am told the village will come out for the show. The PTA and maybe the Tribal Chief will come and I am scared now — will he think this is silly? They are academic here, the children must excel to be allowed in the next school. Now I have them doing yoga and speaking Shakespeare and saying Red-Lethah….

I have five more classes to tackle — totallying 350 kids — then I hear the scary news — Spring Break is coming: next week is a short week. I have three more school days to work with the entire school — then they will perform and take a long spring vacation.

I walk home passing cows and donkeys and goats and dogs before turning on antoher dirt road where the building sits that houses the Tribal Chief.

I needed his permission for this endeavor. It was time.

Next: Shakespeare in Africa #6. The Show Goes On

Shakespeare in Africa #4. Students, Snakes and Sticky Hands.

My first night in Motopi, I fled my room to wait it out while the lone misquito had it out with Doom. (See last article — “Dooming the room.”) It was worth it. Standing under the night sky like that I saw things I’d never seen. Which brought up thoughts I never had, hatched here under the night sky.

Botswana Thought #1:

Why do we go to the moon when in all truth, we’re already on the greatest spaceship ever. We can breathe, eat, move around rotate the sun and we don’t have to put on a space suit, drink Tang or eat space sticks!

Pinky cleans the entire school.

I don’t remember having that thought before. I direct Shakespeare for a modest living currently — there was so much star gazing going on back then— hence the references in all the plays to the sky, the heavens, the sun, the stars. I never got it until now. Hard to pull myself away, but a hear a rustle in the bushes so I run inside. The misquito is no more. It’s hot in Chicken’s house. I want to jump in the river, but I am warned there are hippos in there at night.

Donkeys and birds wake me on my first full day. But that is a wonderful sound. What isn’t so wonderful is the ongoing fluttering in a corner of the bedroom roof— like a massive bird’s nest inside the ceiling.

My neighbor “Pinky” is a young, very hard working single mother who lives in a two room house next door. She wears a pink dress to work but that is not why she’s called Pinky. Her job is cleaner of the school floors and toilets — Pinky came over last night and showed me how to “work” the house. The shower water is heated by an electric tea kettle — that water is poured into a plastic tub to be mixed with the cold shower water. Somehow. Then there are the breakers, which Pinky demonstrates. If there are too many things going at once, everything turns off everywhere. Including at Pinky’s house. Electricity is paid in advance. When it’s used up — that’s the end. Go pay it forward.

I am getting in a mindset to meet the school teachers and the students today. No lounging, no jet lag recovery time. Brooks arrives and we sip our instant coffee, jump in his truck and head along the dirt road, sometimes blocked by donkeys, goats and cows. In the light of day I can now see the huts of Motopi.

I get my second Botswana Thought:

What about Unlearning? What about UnTeaching? What if we call it UnTeacher. I am a lifelong Unlearner. How else to make room for new ideas? We should unlearn everything. Even this thought.

Sticky Fingers all Day Long

There’s no ownership in “being taught” — less discovery, no real joy in it for that matter. Our players prefer when learning their lines is an accident — like while they’re on their feet engaging with each other. We try and untry things in rehearsal all the time. Fixed ideas are a danger. More of a danger than the nest in the ceiling of my bedroom — which I have been told could be a bat’s nest.

I nearly stepped on this.

The school is a collection of buildings on dirt, overlooking a field. There are classrooms, offices, a kitchen and toilets way off in the field. I hear a rumor that the kids recently killed a python in the schoolyard. I find out later, this is not an uncommon thing. Spiders? The least of our worries.

I meet the school headmistress, Mma Bharata, sitting behind a desk in a tiny dark room. Brooks translates – speaking in Tswana. She does speak English, but this gives us a flow. It’s obvious on Day One, they aren’t sure what I actually do or what to do…with me. I show Mma Bharata what we do at Los Angeles Drama Club by playing videos of our kids on my phone. I know that if I could just have some time with the students, it would become clear. Then all the teachers come in and we meet each other. They’re young and not what I expected. There’s an urban vibe to a lot of them.

Classes start and Mma Bharata brings me around to each classroom. When we enter, the children immediately rise and greet us in English:

“Good mohhning, teachah!”

From pre-school to seventh grade, they’re in uniform and impeccably groomed.

“Good morning, class. How are you?”

“We are fiiiine, Madame.”

In this first 20 seconds, I realize this is very academic English. There was a warning that the English is not fluent and I would have to go slow. But when I audit the classrooms and hear the teachers talk to them, it’s in Tswana. When I proceed to talk to them in English, their faces look blank. Now what? Shakespeare of course.

I have now audited the classes and it’s Nutrition break. Mma Bharata tells me some of the kids come to school hungry and this is their first meal. It’s not a complaint, just a piece of information. Everyone dips their hands into pails, scooping out what looks like hominy. Sticky fingers everywhere. One grabs my hand – the goo spreads. Great. I assume that this gluey substance just…stays on our hands…until it’s forgotten. I’m right.

I go look for a towel to wipe it off, but I’m physically trapped inside a mob of First Graders huddling for a photo. (the kids crowd in; they have gobs of space, but they love to clump together like one flailing octopus). In the middle of this clump of bodies under the Acacia tree, Botswana Idea #3 comes to me.

Teach them Hamlet. They will get it.

First graders stare up at me. I speak, they repeat. Now they do it on their own. In five minutes, the first words of Shakespeare are officially spoken in Motopi — by a group of six year olds.

This group uttered the first words of Shakespeare today

To be or not to be. My favorite teacher, Miss Hayes, was an archaeologist, and she was always coming back from a dig or some kind of adventure. I remember her because of her storytelling. It was about what she had JUST DISCOVERED. It felt so alive. Everything felt like it was happening now. The teachers in Motopi are required to teach out of books. But when they break the pattern of that and speak from their passion or experience, everyone wakes up. I feel so lucky – this is ALL I get to do – tell stories, speak from my passion and wake everyone up. The women teachers in Motopi are nurturers but they also have fire. The first one that catches my attention is Teacher Gertrude. And she knows about Hamlet’s Gertrude. Could Shakespeare have known that 400 years down the road, a woman in Botswana will be talking about her given name being a one of his characters? She invites me to her classroom after Nutrition. A bell is rung and the children run into the buildings. The yard is quiet.

Iamic Pentameter strikes in Gertrude’s Class!

Note the eyes. We are quite present.

I walk into Miss Gertrude’s 4th Grade class. They all stand and greet me. Then they sing a song. I try to learn some Tswana from them. This group is up for anything. I decide to start with zero words. Everyone understands a heartbeat. I tap out: dee DUMB/dee DUMB/dee DUMB/dee DUMB/dee DUMB… on my chest. I invite them to join.

This is the language of the heart and the iambic feet matches a heartbeat. Could Shakespeare have been walking through hills while he thought up the speeches — was his heart pounding louder than usual? This is really a theory.Once they got the 5 Feet (dee-dumbs), Gertrude’s class receives their first Iambic Pentameter line: the one we like to start with at L.A. Drama Club:

Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown.

Playing the Mirror Game, Day One

No writing! We are up on our feet. Every word conveyed through tone and gesture. UNEASY is not the opposite of “easy,” so we look for a synonym. Uncomfortable…not quite….unsafe. They know this word. They get UNSAFE.

We stand together, acting out what “unsafe” looks like in our bodies and faces. I ask, “Who is a person who wears a crown?” No blank stares. A tiny voice calls out: The Queen. I thought it interesting Queen was thought of before King. Now we talk about POWER.

Why should a queen feel unsafe? Castles, mansions, fame and money…why unsafe? Can a Queen ever rest? What if somebody wants to take her crown? Maybe she worries all the time! Invaders, Heretics, Cousins….

Botswana president, Ian Khama*, is a conservationist. Brooks tells me how he has re-purposed the Botswana army to shoot only poachers. Also, in this country, no cammoflauge allowed! It’s no“fashion statement” over here. So in this case, this Botswana “head that wears a crown” might feel uneasy over concern about the elephants being shot for tusks in the Kalahari. They understand that analogy. They get it. Miss Gertrude translates just in case. Hands go up. Every single one of them now wants the opportunity to to chant it alone, in front of their peers.

It’s been twenty minutes and Gertrude’s Fourth Grade class shows a visceral, personal understanding of this one Shakespeare line from Henry IV. They also get to ponder how getting to the top of the Power Food Chain has a price.Then my favorite thing happened:

They ask for another line of iambic pentameter.

This is when I say to Gertrude, “I think we can put on a show.” Gertrude is ahead of me. “You’ll have your show.” I am heartened that there are curious teachers here — teaching curious children. And I have hope that Motopi School — in the middle of nowhere — will soon be the “Youngest Shakespeare Troupe in Africa.”

The hominy stuck on my hand has dried. And for the rest of the day … it goes unnoticed and forgotten.

The walk to school. I am closer to Shakespeare’s era here.
Not kidding about the sticky hands.

Shakespeare Youth Festival LA – December 2016

MacMWW_banner900x425

Los Angeles Drama Club is proud to present Shakespeare Youth Festival LA – December 2016!

December 3 & 4
December 10 & 11

Featuring
MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR
at 1:30 PM
and
MACBETH
at 5 PM

Performances will be held at Fais Do Do – 5253 W. Adams Blvd.

All performances are Pay-What-You-Can at the door. If you would like to bypass Box Office lines, and secure a reserved seat, we invite you to purchase your tickets in advance ($10/ticket).

 

MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR

quickly-and-falstaffSir John Falstaff decides that he wants to have a little fun, so he writes two letters to a pair of Windsor wives: Mistress Ford and Mistress Page. When they discover that they’ve both received letters, they plan a practical joke or two to teach the knight a lesson. But when Mistress Ford’s husband finds out, chaos ensues. Meanwhile, three suitors seek the hand of Anne Page, Mistress Page’s daughter, and the one she loves – surprise!! – is not the one that has Father’s Stamp of Approval!

Themes explored:

LIES AND DECEIT
This play is chock-full of people who are trying to “pull one over” on someone … and most of them get punished in some very funny ways! Are these punishments just? And what about when the punisher is also a deceiver?

SOCIETY AND GENDER
The characters in this play run the gamut from servants to nobility – we’ll explore how the different classes treat others and are treated themselves, and how different life is for women and men!

LANGUAGE AND COMMUNICATION
Merry Wives of Windsor is loaded with the kind of clever word-play and snazzy banter that makes us love Shakespeare … and with people who don’t communicate very well … which leads to a lot of hilarious misunderstandings!

Saturdays from 1 pm to 3 pm
Fais Do Do –
5253 W. Adams Blvd

2nd through 9th grade

Starting Saturday, September 17th

Tuition – $500.00

We believe that every child who is drawn to this work should be able to participate, so we offer a variety of scholarships – click here for the application form and guidelines. Please do not hesitate to apply!

Performances
December 3 & 4
December 10 & 11
Curtain Time TBD

Please note: There will be additional rehearsals scheduled in November.

 

HAMLET – This class is full

hamletFamed theater director Charles Marowitz says, “Our job is to re-trace, re-discover, reconsider, and re-angle the classics – not simply regurgitate them.” This best describes our coming adventure with THE HAMLET PROJECT.

This eight-month commitment is designed for the L.A. Drama Club Extremists and Shakespeare “Geeks,” who are as passionate about the process as they are about the performance.

Hamlet’s text, themes, characters, plots, subplots are for those who seek a challenge, a creative outlet – the initiators who want a stab at Creative Control, yet thrive on working as a ensemble. Now it is our turn to tell this story as this unique group of passionate Players experiences it.

Discussion, writing, experimental games and adventurous acting…The Hamlet Project will be “living” with this work for eight months, and performing it in the Spring SYFLA.

Tuesdays from 4:30 pm to 6:30 pm
September 13th through October 11th
Lyric Theatre
520 N. La Brea
October 18th through December 13th
Fais Do Do –
5253 W. Adams Blvd
January through May
Location TBD

7th through 12th grade
Starting Tuesday, September 13th

Performances
April 29 & 30
May 6 & 7

This class is full – if you’d like to be placed on the Waiting List, please email us.

We also invite you to consider Macbeth – we have a few spaces left!

HAMLET

hamletFamed theater director Charles Marowitz says, “Our job is to re-trace, re-discover, reconsider, and re-angle the classics – not simply regurgitate them.” This best describes our coming adventure with THE HAMLET PROJECT.

This eight-month commitment is designed for the L.A. Drama Club Extremists and Shakespeare “Geeks,” who are as passionate about the process as they are about the performance.

Hamlet’s text, themes, characters, plots, subplots are for those who seek a challenge, a creative outlet – the initiators who want a stab at Creative Control, yet thrive on working as a ensemble. Now it is our turn to tell this story as this unique group of passionate Players experiences it.

Discussion, writing, experimental games and adventurous acting…The Hamlet Project will be “living” with this work for eight months, and performing it in the Spring SYFLA.

Tuesdays from 4:30 pm to 6:30 pm
September 13th through October 11th
Lyric Theatre
520 N. La Brea
October 18th through December 13th
Fais Do Do –
5253 W. Adams Blvd
January through May
Location TBD

7th through 12th grade
Starting Tuesday, September 13th

Performances
April 29 & 30
May 6 & 7

 

MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR – This class is full

quickly-and-falstaffSir John Falstaff decides that he wants to have a little fun, so he writes two letters to a pair of Windsor wives: Mistress Ford and Mistress Page. When they discover that they’ve both received letters, they plan a practical joke or two to teach the knight a lesson. But when Mistress Ford’s husband finds out, chaos ensues. Meanwhile, three suitors seek the hand of Anne Page, Mistress Page’s daughter, and the one she loves – surprise!! – is not the one that has Father’s Stamp of Approval!

Themes explored:

LIES AND DECEIT
This play is chock-full of people who are trying to “pull one over” on someone … and most of them get punished in some very funny ways! Are these punishments just? And what about when the punisher is also a deceiver?

SOCIETY AND GENDER
The characters in this play run the gamut from servants to nobility – we’ll explore how the different classes treat others and are treated themselves, and how different life is for women and men!

LANGUAGE AND COMMUNICATION
Merry Wives of Windsor is loaded with the kind of clever word-play and snazzy banter that makes us love Shakespeare … and with people who don’t communicate very well … which leads to a lot of hilarious misunderstandings!

Saturdays from 1 pm to 3 pm
Fais Do Do –
5253 W. Adams Blvd

2nd through 9th grade

Starting Saturday, September 17th

Tuition – $500.00

We believe that every child who is drawn to this work should be able to participate, so we offer a variety of scholarships – click here for the application form and guidelines. Please do not hesitate to apply!

Performances
December 3 & 4
December 10 & 11
Curtain Time TBD

Please note: There will be additional rehearsals scheduled in November.

This class is full – if you’d like to be placed on the Waiting List, please email us.

We also invite you to consider Macbeth – we have a few spaces left!

 

MACBETH

witchesIt is an Election Year. What will politicians do and say to be in power? Take Macbeth, for example. This Fall, we are going to pare Macbeth down and reveal these Bad to the Bone characters just as they are – raw, ambitious, political, shadowy, dark.

Themes explored:

FATE/FREE WILL – Does fate or human will determines a man’s future? What causes a seemingly decent man to commit evil acts? Is the play set in motion by the weird sisters’ prophesy that Macbeth will be king, or by his actions? In the end, the play leaves the question unanswered.

POWER/AMBITION – What distinguishes a good ruler from a tyrant? What are the consequences of regicide (killing a king)? Although the play is set in 11th century Scotland (a time when kings were frequently murdered), and how are political opponents committing character assassination today?

GENDER ROLES – Macbeth turns our notions of traditional gender roles upside-down – is femininity synonymous with kindness and compassion, and masculinity with cruelty and violence, or is Macduff right when he argues that the capacity to “feel” human emotion is in fact what makes one a “man”?

MAGIC – Witchcraft features prominently in Macbeth. What message do the witches and their actions have for us?

Mondays from 4 pm to 6 pm
Fais Do Do –
5253 W. Adams Blvd

4th through 9th grade

Starting Monday, September 12th

Tuition – $500.00

We believe that every child who is drawn to this work should be able to participate, so we offer a variety of scholarships – click here for the application form and guidelines. Please do not hesitate to apply!

Performances
December 3 & 4
December 9 & 10
Curtain Time TBD

Please note: There will be additional rehearsals scheduled in November.

 

Summer with LADC 2016

 

LADC is pleased to offer a variety of programs this year. For students Grade 2 and older, we are offering multiple weeks of our 8th Annual Summer Shakespeare Intensive, as well as Queen Elinor’s School of Knighthood and Chivalry. Students enter Grade 7 and up can choose our Ten-Minute Play Festival, or “Shakespeare and Beyond.”

This year, due to construction at the Lyric Theater, all classes will be held at Fais Do Do (5253 W. Adams Blvd).

Each session runs Monday through Friday, and meets from 9 to 3 every day. Each week will offer unique content, and those who choose to do multiple weeks will have the opportunity to build on their experiences of the prior weeks.

We believe that every child who is drawn to this work should be able to participate, so we offer a variety of scholarships – click here for the application form and guidelines. Please do not hesitate to apply!

————————-

June 20 – June 24
10-Minute Play Fest
Age 7th grade and up

THIS WEEK IS FULL (register below to be added to the wait list)

THE PLAYS THE THING!
WRITE/DIRECT YOUR OWN TEN MINUTE PLAY
The program consists of rigorous, exciting storytelling and playwriting sessions throughout the day, creating short plays out of improvisations with prompts, autobiographical moments, and stories the group creates together. We will also discuss the art, craft and business of playwriting.

In the afternoons, we will be joined by an ensemble of actors, including both LADC Players and professional actors, who will perform the scripts we’ve created.

The week will end with a presentation of all the plays, held Friday afternoon at 2 pm.

————————-

June 27 – July 1
Shakespeare Intensive
Age 2nd grade and up

THIS WEEK IS FULL (register below to be added to the wait list)

Students will spend their days discovering Shakespeare through the best tools and techniques theater has to offer. The LADC technique begins with the improvisational work of Viola Spolin and Agosto Boal, and expands on that to include a variety of physical and vocal disciplines – with the ultimate purpose always to invoke the creative spirit that exists in every child.

We will explore the stories and the language of Shakespeare, strengthen our voices, and learn new ways to use our bodies to tell stories. We will discover the world of Shakespeare’s Elizabethan England, and discover how his plays relate to our world, as well. During the Summer Intensive, our Players will work on a variety of scenes and sonnets, culminating in a Friday afternoon recital to which family and friends are invited.

————————-

July 4 – July 8

OFF

————————-

July 11 – July 15
Shakespeare Intensive
Age 2nd grade and up

THIS WEEK IS FULL (register below to be added to the wait list)

————————-

July 18 – July 22
Beyond Shakespeare
7th grade (in Fall 2016) and up

Our directors’ exceptional training is brought into this week – guests will come to teach various acting and movement techniques such as Spolin Games, Agosto Boal’s Theatre of the Oppressed for Social Justice, Kristin Linklater’s Free the Voice, Ann Bogarts VIEWPOINTS, Sanford Meisner, Actor’s Studio, and Laban Effort-Shape.

In addition to these incredible theater tools and de-stressors for everyday life, our students will be exploring Shakespeare’s comrades – classical and modern playwrights with a gift for storytelling, who use language in a distinctive way.

The week will culminate in a Friday afternoon recital to which family and friends are invited.

————————-

July 25 – July 29
Knighthood and Chivalry
Age 2nd grade and up

Ancient Chivalric codes of conduct shaped modern manners and the global treatment of humanity. The practice of chivalric principles are based in service, integrity and courage.

L.A. Drama Club’s mission is to keep these practices alive by involving our youth in an immersion course in Modern Knighthood. They’ll light up their minds and souls, through storytelling, exploring their ancestry, creating a Family Crest, and participating in a service activity to better our community. They’ll enliven their brains and bodies, as our Knights-in-Training get away from electronics and onto our hillsides for nature-themed hikes, and archery. They’ll learn fencing for the stage, and begin and end the day with deep yoga practice. At the end of the week, we will share what we’ve experienced in a recital.

The School of Knighthood is an ongoing movement of youth in service. Once in, you are knighted for life.

————————-

August 1 – August 5
Shakespeare & The Greeks
Age 2nd grade and up

THIS WEEK IS FULL (register below to be added to the wait list)

Here is where we not only explore Shakespeare’s plays set in Greece, but his references to mythology and Greek Gods. We explore the perspectives of Greek Philosophers like Plato, Epicurus, and especially Ovid, who was a strong influence on Shakespeare. And we introduce the basis for all modern books, plays and screenplays – Aristotle’s Poetics. With this rich banquet of ideas, we create original skits and weave them with Shakespeare’s Greek plays.

The week will culminate in a Friday afternoon recital to which family and friends are invited.

————————-

To register, please fill in the form below. If you are registering multiple children, we ask that you complete an individual registration for each child.

 

“Lost in Translation” – LADC Speaks out on “Play On!

a-and-c-fdd

As the country’s Youngest Shakespeare Troupe 10 years running, we’ve been successful in creating a passion for Shakespeare in children ages 5-17. One of our primary missions has been to make Shakespeare accessible to everyone. We mean everyone. We present our young Players with the original Folio text and urge them to dig in to the words, scan the rhythms and ride the wave of the iambic – and in doing so, they have made incredible discoveries, have become empowered with a new rich vocabulary, and – most rewarding – gained a new perspective on life itself. Our children (over 100 of them) perform the plays as written, trusting that Shakespeare can and will do the rest.

Our direct experience directing Shakespeare’s Canon with young people from diverse neighborhoods and incomes, with various learning styles and educational backgrounds, incites us to voice our strong concerns with any institution of power and influence that attempts to “translate” Shakespeare.

However well-meaning, we do not believe that “translations” of the Canon will make Shakespeare “accessible” to the masses: the very presumption that Shakespeare is beyond the scope of a “regular” person  goes against a decade of direct experience with the exact opposite.

The study of Shakespeare is an extraordinary learning tool, primarily because of the way it challenges the mind to wrestle with the language – and why shouldn’t it? Achieving that “Ah, ha!” moment when we’ve decoded words and phrases is part of the joy of great literature. Why should that moment be taken from us by a modern “translation?

The Play On FAQs assure us that “these translations won’t simplify the originals.” Then what will they do? Is it the just the archaic vocabulary that makes Shakespeare challenging?

“He jests at scars that never felt a wound” – most of our 3rd graders (many from underfunded schools, who’ve had little or no arts education prior to us) would have no problem recognizing and defining every word in that line.

“But soft! What light through yonder window breaks?” This might inspire a discussion about the fact that “breaks” has multiple meanings, or what “soft” might mean in this context, but again, nothing that a 3rd grader can’t wrap her head around. How will the “Play On” translations make these beautiful phrases more “accessible” to our students without losing their original magic? The thought that a student’s first encounter with the Balcony scene might be anything different is heartbreaking to us.

So, what about those who aren’t “studying” him – those who simply want to enjoy watching a play? Anyone who has experienced Shakespeare (on either side of the curtain) knows that the key is a cast and production team that has a deep understanding of the text, and can convey it with conviction and passion. If that’s the case, then the play becomes accessible to anyone: from a 9-year-old to a prison inmate. If it’s not the case, then we don’t care who “translates” it – it won’t be accessible.

If the OSF were commissioning 36 dynamic, creative and inspiring, study guides with modern tie-ins, we would cheer them on. But it is stated quite clearly that they mean the works to be performable. We ask why? Sure, someone might go see a production of Migdalia Cruz’s Macbeth, and be inspired to check out Shakespeare’s original, but the likelihood of that is slim. The risk is that theatre-goer now assumes, “OK, I’ve seen Macbeth. Check that one off the list.”

When we think of the inaccessibility of Shakespeare, we’re more likely to consider the price of tickets, or teachers untrained, passionlessly introducing mandated Shakespeare to middle-schoolers. Does a new “translation” solve these problems?

Apologists for “Play On” claim we’ve been editing and tweaking Shakespeare since the beginning. Indeed, we have. These are called adaptations and re-imaginings – something entirely different. In fact, how wonderful it would be to see the extraordinary resources expended in this project to commission original works inspired by each assigned play – imagine a new “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead” or “Kiss me Kate” or “West Side Story.” Or they might have funded a ticket program to provide low-cost tickets to those who can’t afford $83.30 a ticket (or even $30.00 a ticket). Perhaps a teacher-training program to give teachers the tools to inspire a love of Shakespeare in their students. As noted scholar, James Shapiro said in the NY Times, “It’s likely to be a waste of money and talent.”

We’ve read the many examples cited in articles about the OSF project, and the conceit that these “translations” will make the plays any more accessible seems unlikely. What is likely is that the magic and alchemy that has made Shakespeare Shakespeare  for the last 400+ years will be skewed, even lost. Lost in Translation.

A WINTER’S TALE

pursued-by-a-bearOne of our favorites, this play swings from Sicily to Bohemia, and from tragedy to comedy, and contains one of the most famous stage directions in literature – “Exit, pursued by a bear.”

The characters include Kings and Queens, Shepherds and Shepherdesses, Clowns and Pickpockets … and the Oracle of Delphi!

For Grades 6 through 12

Rehearsals: Tuesdays from 4 to 6 pm
Beginning January 12th
Additional weekend rehearsals will be scheduled in late March and April

Performances: Saturday and Sunday
April 16 & 17 and April 23 & 24
Saturdays – 4:00 pm

Tuition – $675.00
Financial Aid is available – click here for more information.

Lyric Theater – 520 N. La Brea

THIS CLASS IS CLOSED. IF YOU’D LIKE TO BE PLACED ON THE WAITING LIST, PLEASE EMAIL US

 

THE TEMPEST

the_tempestAn island, a deposed member of the nobility, an exiled princess, a sprite, and a monster.  What happens  when a pack of “villains” land on the island, and the opportunity for revenge arises? A Winter’s Tale contains betrayal and oppression, forgiveness and freedom, drama, music, humor, adventure and magic.

Prerequisite: Participation in a prior class or workshop with us, or permission from the directors.

For Grades 2 through 7

Rehearsals: Mondays from 4 to 6 pm
Beginning January 11th
Additional weekend rehearsals will be scheduled in late March and April

Performances: Friday and Saturday
April 23 & 24
April 30 & May 1
1:00 pm

Lyric Theater – 520 N. La Brea

THIS CLASS IS CLOSED. IF YOU’D LIKE TO BE PLACED ON THE WAITING LIST, PLEASE EMAIL US

 

Alex Kingston: A Master Class for Young Actors

alex-meme-2$100.00/person
Ages: 7th through 12th grade
All proceeds go directly to the support of
Shakespeare in the City, a free arts program for youth.

REGISTER TODAY – Space limited to 22 people

IN DEPTH:

Alex Kingston (Doctor Who, E.R., Royal Shakespeare Company member) will work directly with you on:

  • Exploring and amplifying your artistic choices without compromising truthfulness (i.e. reaching the second balcony in a large house, with honesty and truth)
  • “Demystifying” often misunderstood principles of acting, such as pursuing an objective, playing an action, moment-to-moment spontaneity inside the structure of a tightly staged play.
  • Creating rituals for preparation prior to performance.
  • Enhancing your understanding of Shakespeare’s work through scansion, rhythm – the subtextual differences between prose and verse – and what it means for you, the actor.

She will also talk with you about her experiences working in in Britain and in America, in a variety of mediums, touching on topics like:

  • Playing with Gender Bending in Shakespeare – and beyond.
  • Your Questions Answered – What is an actor’s life?

ABOUT ALEX KINGSTON

Alex Kingston, who won critical acclaim in the title role of the PBS miniseries “Moll Flanders,” joined television’s top-rated, “ER” during its fourth season, as the spirited surgeon ‘Dr. Elizabeth Corday.’ She also reprised her role on “ER” along with the rest of the original cast, for the final episodes of the series.

Kingston was recently seen starring in the UK series “Chasing Shadows”, “Upstairs Downstairs” on the BBC, “Marchlands” on ITV, “Hope Springs,” on BBC One,” the ITV mini-series “Lost in Austen,” and as River Song in the highly successful British series “Dr. Who.” She will next be seen in the independent film “Bukowski” for director James Franco. She currently can be seen recurring on “Arrow” for the CW.

This past year, she starred opposite Sir Kenneth Branagh in the critically-acclaimed Manchester and NY production of “Macbeth”. Other recent credits include the West End production of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” playing the role of ‘Nurse Ratched’ opposite Christian Slater and in the films “Sweetland” opposite Alan Cummings, in “Alpha Dog” starting Justin Timberlake and “Like Crazy” starring Felicity Jones and directed by Drake Doremus. She also recurred on “Flash Foward” for ABC and “Law & Order SVU” for NBC.

Previously she was seen in the UK and America in the lead role in the Box TV and PBS drama film “Boudica.” Kingston played the great 15th century gladiator queen “Boudica.”

Growing up on the outskirts of London, Kingston was first introduced to the theatre when she and her family visited her mother’s native Germany; where she saw her uncle, an actor, perform. She made her own stage debut at age five, playing the Angel Gabriel in the Nativity play. “My mother made me these big, beautiful wings,” remembers Kingston, “and the other kids – without wings – were all jealous. I was very excited, and then a bit upset when I discovered that Gabriel was really a guy.”

Kingston was inspired to pursue an acting career by her English teacher at the all-girls grammar school she attended in Epsom, where she often had leading roles in school plays. She landed her first professional role at age 15 as a judo-chopping bully on the successful British series, “Grange Hill.”

After finishing school, she moved to London, where she was accepted into the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts. After completing the two-year program of study, Kingston worked in repertory theatre across England. She joined the famed Royal Shakespeare Company, where she appeared in productions of “Much Ado About Nothing,” “King Lear,” “Love’s Labours Lost,” “The Curse of the Starving Class” and “The Bright and Bold Design.” She also starred in the Birmingham Repertory’s productions of “Othello,” “The Alchemist,” “Traveling Players,” “Saved,” “Julius Caesar” and “See How They Run.”

While Kingston tended to play classical characters on the stage, she took on contemporary roles in British television programs, including “A Killing Exchange,” “The Bill,” “Crocodile Shoes,” “The Knock” and “I Hate Christmas,” and in the American cable movies “Weapons of Mass Distraction” and “The Infiltrator.”

Her feature film credits include the critically-acclaimed “Croupier,” “Carrington,” “The St. Exupery Story,” “The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover,” “Curran’s Wife,” “The Wildcats of St. Trinians,” “A Pin for the Butterfly” and “The Woman and the Wolf.” Kingston made a cameo appearance in the independent film “This Space Between Us” and starred in the British pop-culture film “Essex Boys,” for which she played a double-crossing girlfriend of an underground drug criminal.
.


To register, please fill in the form below:

Shakespeare Intensive

summerWe are pleased to announce our 2015 Summer Shakespeare Intensive. Students will spend their days discovering Shakespeare through the best tools and techniques theater has to offer. The LADC technique begins with the improvisational work of Viola Spolin and Agosto Boal, and expands on that to include a variety of physical and vocal disciplines – with the ultimate purpose always to invoke the creative spirit that exists in every child.

During the Summer Intensive, our Players will work on a variety of scenes and sonnets, culminating in recitals to which family and friends are invited. We will discover the world of Shakespeare’s Elizabethan England, learn about costume and set design through hands-on art projects, and enjoy visits from Los Angeles theater professionals. Students will also have the opportunity to attend various local Shakespeare productions.

Each week will end with a recital, held Friday afternoon at 3 pm.

Monday through Friday – 9 am to 3 pm
Week One – July 27 – 31
Week Two – August 3 – 7

$325.00 per week
Financial Aid is available, based on need. Click here for more information.

Grade 2 through Grade 9 (Fall 2015)

Tuition: $325 
Scholarships are available – click here for the application form and guidelines.

Register Today

Queen Elinor’s School of Knighthood and Chivalry

knightsaroundthetableAncient Chivalric codes of conduct shaped modern manners and the global treatment of humanity. The practice of chivalric principles are based in service, integrity and courage.

L.A. Drama Club’s mission is to keep these practices alive by involving our youth in an immersion course in Modern Knighthood. They’ll light up their minds and souls, through storytelling, exploring their ancestry, creating a Family Crest, and participating in a service activity to better our community. They’ll enliven their brains and bodies, as our Knights-in-Training get away fromarchery electronics and onto our hillsides for nature-themed hikes, and archery. They’ll learn fencing for the stage, and begin and end the day with deep yoga practice.

The School of Knighthood is an ongoing movement of youth in service. Once in, you are knighted for life.

Monday through Friday – 9 am to 3 pm
Week One – June 22 – 26

$400.00 per week
(includes fees for Field Trips)
Financial Aid is available, based on need. Click here for more information.

Grade 2 through Grade 6 (Fall 2015)

Tuition: $400
Scholarships are available – click here for the application form and guidelines.

Register Today

Ten-Minute Play Festival

playwrightTHE PLAYS THE THING!

WRITE/DIRECT YOUR TEN MINUTE PLAY & PERFORM IN OTHER PLAYS.

The program consists of rigorous, exciting storytelling and playwriting sessions throughout the day, creating short plays out of improvisations with prompts, autobiographical moments, and stories the group creates together. We will also discuss the art, craft and business of playwriting.

The week will end with a presentation of all the plays, held Friday afternoon at 2 pm.

Monday through Friday – 9 am to 3 pm
June 15 – 19

$325.00 per week
Financial Aid is available, based on need. Click here for more information.

Grade 7 and up (Fall 2015)

Tuition: $325 
Scholarships are available – click here for the application form and guidelines.

Register Today

Summer with the Los Angeles Drama Club

summer-2012LADC is pleased to offer three programs this year – our 7th Annual Summer Shakespeare IntensiveQueen Elinor’s School of Knighthood and Chivalry, and our new Ten-Minute Play Festival. Our programs are designed for students entering Grade 2 – Grade 11 in Fall 2015. For some activities, the participants are divided according to age, and for others, they will work together as a group. In some group activities, the older participants will serve as mentors to the younger; the younger students learn by example, and the older gain valuable leadership experience.

June 15 – 19 – Ten-Minute Play Festival (entering Grade 7 and above)
June 22 – 26 – Queen Elinor’s School of Knighthood and Chivalry (entering Grade 2 through Grade 6)
July 27 – 31 – Shakespeare Intensive (entering Grade 2 through Grade 8)
August 3 – 7 – Shakespeare Intensive (entering Grade 2 through Grade 8)

All classes are held at The Lyric Theatre, at 520 N. La Brea Ave. Each week will offer unique content, and those who choose to do multiple weeks will have the opportunity to build on their experiences of the prior weeks.

Looking for Shakespeare in the City – please click here!

Scholarships are available – click here for the application form and guidelines.

Shakespeare in the City Summer 2015

sitc2Join us this summer – free week-long sessions for residents of District 10!

Our 9-3pm curriculum includes:

  • THEATER GAMES
  • YOGA and MEDITATION
  • IMPROV
  • SHAKESPEARE
  • PROFESSIONAL STAGE COMBAT TRAINING FOR SHAKESPEARE
  • STORYTELLING
  • A SPECIAL COURSE ON THEATRE TRADITIONS – Why we say “Break a leg” – Why we don’t say Macbeth inside a theatre, etc.

The program is held at Club Fais Do Do – 5253 W. Adams Blvd. All spaces are filled – you may fill in the form below to be placed on the waiting list.

LEARN MORE ABOUT OUR SHAKESPEARE IN THE CITY PROGRAM HERE.

dept-of-cultural-affairsPlease note: Grants from the Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs and various Neighborhood Councils enable us to offer this program free to residents of District 10. If  you are able to contribute, we ask that you make an additional donation to help us continue this work. Registration Priority is given to residents of District 10 (all or parts of Palms, South Robertson, West Area Neighborhood, West Adams, Arlington Heights, Mid City and Mid City West, Olympic Park, West Pico, Wilshire Center and Greater Wilshire – please see map for confirmation). If you are not a resident of District 10, we invite you to consider our program at The Lyric Theatre (details here).

June 22 – 26 (full – register below to be placed on the waiting list)
July 20 – 24 (full – register below to be placed on the waiting list)
August 3 – 7 (full – register below to be placed on the waiting list)

9 am to 3 pm

Grade 2 through Grade 8 (Fall 2015)

sitc

SYFLA – Fall 2014

This Fall marked our first original production – “Outspoken” was inspired by Blaire’s trip to London, and our Players’ fascination with the stories she brought back about The Clink, London’s notorious prison. We imagined what might happen if several of Shakespeare’s most idealistic and rebellious characters were thrown in The Clink for speaking truth to power.

Our oldest Players transplanted “Twelfth Night” to Crystal Cove, a remote beach community circa 1962. Surfer music, Hawaiian shirts and lots of palm fronds added to the fun.

Our Shakespeare in the City Players explored the most iconoclastic people of Shakespeare’s Canon – characters who break the mold, speak up to the Power, smash their own stereotype, explode old paradigms, and climb an uphill trail of courage, creativity and… controversy.

 

TROILUS AND CRESSIDA

trojan-war-2Another entry in our “Rare Gems” series, this play (like Cymbeline, Timon of Athens and King John) is not on the Greatest Hits list. Set against the backdrop of the final years of the Trojan War, it swings wildly between bawdy comedy and tragic gloom, and the audience is not always sure how to feel about its complex characters!

This epic story is filled with themes that are very relevant for our middle/high schoolers. While we will treat them in a manner appropriate for the ages involved, parents should be aware that the play involves some mature topics, and we suggest reading a synopsis, and discussing any concerns with us prior to registering.

For Grades 7 through 12

Rehearsals: Tuesdays from 4 to 6 pm
Beginning January 13th
Additional weekend rehearsals will be scheduled in late March and April

Performances: Saturday and Sunday
April 25 & 26 and May 2 & 3

Time TBD

Lyric Theater – 520 N. La Brea

REGISTRATION IS CLOSED.