Interview with Curriculum Specialist and OSF Lead Teaching Artist Kirsten Giroux
K. Gosnell – So, Kirsten, this past January you and our Director of Education, Joan Langley, traveled to UC Davis for a teachers’ workshop. Can you tell me a little bit about that weekend?
K. Giroux – This is the second year that a group of professional educators from theater organizations across the United States and from Shakespeare’s Globe in London have gathered to share active and playful approaches to teaching Shakespeare. Elementary teachers through junior college professors joined us in learning new methods of teaching Shakespeare’s plays to their students.
K. Gosnell – Who were some of the presenters?
K. Giroux – The various presenters and their organizations included: Kevin Costa from The Chesapeake Shakespeare Company, Michael LaMonico from Folger Education, Rebecca J. Ennals from San Francisco Shakespeare, Patrick Spottiswoode and Philip Cumbus from Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, Sarah Enloe from American Shakespeare Center and, of course, Joan and me from the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.
K. Gosnell – This sounds like an amazing opportunity for teachers. Who made all of this possible?
K. Giroux – It was presented by the UC Davis School of Education and the Robert Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts at UC Davis in association with Globe Education (Shakespeare’s Globe, London) and the Shakespeare Theatre Association.
K. Gosnell – How long have you been doing this work?
K. Giroux – I joined OSF as a member of the acting company about 19 years ago and in 2000 I made the transition to being a full time teaching artist.
K. Gosnell – What do you do in your current your role as Curriculum Specialist and Resident Teaching Artist?
K. Giroux – I work with a team of other resident teaching artists, and we develop curriculum which supports the work on our stages. This means that most of our work (our study guides, Prologues, workshops and other offerings) are designed for the students, teachers and other regular playgoers who attend plays here at the Festival. I also do a lot of teaching and teacher training both here and on the road.
K. Gosnell – What is your favorite part about what you do?
K. Giroux – I love developing the curriculum. It’s very creative work.
K. Gosnell – What’s your next project?
K. Giroux – Joan and I will be leading a class called “Inside Shakespeare: The Taming of the Shrew and King Lear” during the first weekend in March. This class is designed for teachers who are bringing their students to see either The Taming of the Shrew and/or King Lear.
K. Gosnell – Sounds like a very full weekend.
K. Giroux – It will be. Teachers will come to the class and essentially play the role of ‘student’ for the weekend as they explore these two plays with us. They will get a chance to see performances of Shrew and Lear, and they will go home with a notebook full of exercises that they can use in their classrooms while preparing their students to come to OSF to see the plays themselves. The notebooks are very user-friendly; they have worksheets that teachers can simply remove, make copies of and hand out in class. The materials that the teachers share with their students are the exact same exercises that we review with them over the course of the “Inside Shakespeare” weekend. I’m really looking forward to it – especially the chance to review and teach two very different Shakespeare plays.
K. Gosnell – Thank you for your time, Kirsten, and for sharing!