Season: 2013

From our Stages into the Classroom

Posted on Jul 25th, 2013 in Education Matters

Teachers give their feedback on visits to OSF.

student prologue

Teachers were asked the following question after bringing their students to visit OSF:

We hope that a visit to OSF stimulates the students beyond their time in Ashland. Can you share any stories, large or small, of how the students carried their OSF experience back to the classroom?

Here are some of their responses:

The students listened to The Unfortunates soundtrack in the car the whole way home. They all wanted to bring their families to Ashland to share the shows with them. We're already excited for next year's trip!

"I want my ham!" This line from Two Trains Running is a running joke between students and teachers now.

I had one fairly bright student who said he had never seen a play before. We saw three in Ashland. On the way home he said he was going to a local production in the next week and planned to make theatre a regular part of his life from now on.

The 7th graders didn't want to return back to class because of the fantastic plays and the educational experience. They wanted to tip the bus driver so he would keep driving. The plays were so well-done! The actors were captivating!

After the trip students write an overview of their thoughts about each of the plays and the workshops and then we spend two hours discussing the plays we saw. That time is never enough. Here is an excerpt written by a senior who had never gone before and was only able to do so because we fundraised for him: "Nothing could prepare me for the amazing talent I saw performing the plays at Ashland. I didn't know plays could be as expressive and realistic as these. Every scene of every play seemed natural, like they were all really unfolding in front of me. I got lost in the action, and I continually forgot I was watching plays. They were more entertaining than any movie I've seen in a long time. A television screen definitely blocks some of the intensity and emotions in a story, and watching these plays made that clearer than ever. No slasher movie made me cringe like the scene with Gloucester and the cork screw. I laughed harder at The Taming of the Shrew when I saw the intentions for the play carried out live. I was able to understand the complex interactions between Shakespeare's characters, and his messages were much clearer. It was in Ashland that I was truly able to appreciate theater as one of the greatest art forms of human invention. Real emotions were poured into fiction, and I was able to see Shakespeare's imagination at work." This is just one example that expresses the impact the OSF performances have on the students.

Several students who expected a stodgy Shakespeare play were delighted to find how entertaining the productions were. Some went on the trip because their friends were going, but afterward, they were eager to make a return trip with a parent or another friend. They wanted to share their discovery and excitement with others!

The experience of participating in the incredible and varied Shakespeare productions was the high point of the year for my English literature students. They will never forget how the productions made the written word come alive and are no longer intimidated by Shakespeare!

My students had a marvelous experience at OSF. I loved seeing their eyes light up with wonder and watching big smiles appear on their faces during the shows. They are not afraid of Shakespeare anymore, and they have new perspectives on the relevance of his plays to our time.

For the past two years I have brought students to OSF at the beginning of the Season. These are the Drama/Musical production students, and they are comprised of 10-12 grade actors and crew. After the 2012 season, every idea we had, every creative impulse while working on our shows, seemed to be measured by The White Snake. We were all so energized and inspired by the creative story telling we witnessed. This year, the students enjoyed every show. They marveled at the focus and character development of the actors in Two Trains Running, they loved the original setting and music in The Taming of The Shrew, and we were all especially blown away by the theatre-making we witnessed in King Lear. Like The White Snake, King Lear seems to be the one that we are still referencing when talking about how organic a process theatre can be. I personally enjoy seeing my students in a place where they all can feel free to be who they are. They buy masks at the Tudor Guild and walk around town in them. We go to a variety of restaurants and they get to try out cuisine they normally never eat. They stay together communally, along with the chaperones, having breakfast together and discussing the play they just saw until the wee hours of the morning (after lights out!). I will be bringing a group again this year. Many are "repeat customers" who feel, as I do, that Ashland and OSF are magical.