Shakespeare in Chesterland

Great Lakes Theater Actors Enrich the Classroom by Doing Scenes

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Lights, Camera…Bard !

This year in multiple English classes at West Geauga High School, students were recently given the opportunity to bring the novels and plays studied in paper form to life, literally. With help from English teacher Mr. Jim Klein’s previous involvement in professional theater acting, and a grant proposal written and submitted by Mrs. Cindy O’Janpa, the first visitations of the Great Lakes Theater’s Shakespeare Residency Program (GLTF) began. The grant was approved and paid for by the West Geauga Education Foundation.

GLTF was originally founded in 1981 with the help of a young actor who was working in Cleveland doing Shakespeare plays. His name was Tom Hanks. The GLTF actors were a common sight at West G. back in the 90’s and early 2000’s, but it has been a while since they were at West Geauga.

Professional actors and teachers from the organization spent one week with students in Mrs. Keli Sessler’s 12th grade AP classes, as well as Mrs. O’Janpa’s and Mrs. Kelli Klampe’s 10-1 and 10-2 classes. The focus in class was centered around Shakespeare’s plays and some students worked with The Tempest, while others dealt with Julius Ceasar. Mrs. O’Janpa noted, “Students were not passively learning about Shakespeare. Instead, they gained greater appreciation and were actively engaged in the daily study of each act.”

Through this process, students were required to participate in acting and creating one new scene per day. After the scenes were performed, the students and actors were engaged in analysis, discussion, and interpretation of not only the literature but the process of the acting as well. Sophomore Kimmy Davidson said, “I liked the way that they got you engaged to act and made English not so boring (no offense, Mrs. O.J !).”

Those who participated were able to become personally involved and gained a greater appreciation of the plays through the collaboration process. Due to the success of the program, it has been rescheduled for next year! “It’s one thing to read literature, but it’s another to have the drama come to life in front of you and be an actual participant in the process. One always learns more by doing than just observing, so we’re going to have them back next year,” said Mrs. Sessler.

We’ll keep you posted on the Encore !