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I, Malvolio Classroom Visits…

Hi everyone,

I am having a great time visiting your classrooms, and I thought I’d do a quick post to share some favorite moments from the classes I’ve visited so far.

In Aaron’s class, we had a blast bringing lines and short scenes to life. It was a really creative bunch, and I particularly enjoyed their characterization of Olivia: she was sitting on a chair with her legs on another student pretending to be a footstool, filing her nails and talking about how she was so humbled by her love for Cesario–the contrast in her lines and her physicality was great, and I thought a really good illustration of character. Tableaus of “the whirligig of time” and “love” were also particularly memorable, and I loved the group that translated “Dost thou think, because thou art virtuous, we shall have no more cakes and ale?” As, “Do you think just because you’re you I’m not gonna do me?” It was brilliant.

In Tom’s class, we staged the scene in which Toby, Andrew, Feste, and Maria wake up Malvolio and then plot to write the love letter. We had people singing, dancing, falling down, and finding physical ways to show that more than one actor was playing the same character (like sharing movement/gesture or having one person play the arms and the other person the rest of the character). One of my favorite things was a brilliant piece of text analysis. A student who was playing Toby asked if “Approach, Sir Andrew, approach” meant that she should come on stage first. It sounds really simple, but this is the kind of clue to staging that even a lot of veteran actors would miss.

In Gary’s class, I worked with a small but wonderful group on using gesture and vocalization to make a scene with very few lines of actual dialogue. They did an excellent job using personification to find imaginative ways of working additional actors into a scene: both Malvolio’s mirror and his bed gave him their opinions very freely. When they got to write their own dialogue, we added the gems “ye joyous Pottery Barn” and “Whatever, I’m rocking these yellow stockings” to our scenes.

In Sherry’s class, we used personification to explore how Olivia’s house and garden might feel about the people who inhabit their world–we ended up with some excellent sad grass and found some great staging moment in the scene when Malvolio receives “Olivia’s” letter. My particular favorites were the bird noises, sneezes (and Monty Python quotes) the statues, trees, and bushes used to cover up the sounds of Toby and Andrew talking.

At MOSAIC, I got the wonderful opportunity to see some of the students’ versions of Shakespeare plays and sonnets–all around brilliance! In addition, we worked on two scenes from Twelfth Night, both of which involved garden snakes, lawn gnomes, and other shenanigans.

Brandi’s class used their story-boarding skills to create a series of tableaus to tell the story of a scene from Twelfth Night. The use of extra students as furniture, a rug, and a huge cake and tankard of ale, were fantastic and whimsical.

Jessica’s classes staged a Maury Povich special called “Malvolio’s Revenge.” The handwriting expert who verified Maria’s handwriting was a particularly dramatic moment! The Maury audiences were so engaged, it was great preparation for Tim Crouch’s interaction with the audience in I, Malvolio.

All around, it’s been a great few weeks, and the post visits have been a really special time for me because you have amazing, compassionate, articulate students who engaged with this piece of artwork on a very deep level. Thank you so much for a great year and I can’t wait to see the Pages publication and exhibit!


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