Behind the scenes at Orlando Shakespeare Theater

Shakespeare Meets Justin Bieber

Hi Everybody!

Whew, this week has been exhausting!  Rehearsals are still going strong, and I think we only have about 4 more rehearsals for A Midsummer Night’s Dream before we move into the space.  The set, by the way, looks amazing so far.  The back wall is up (and gorgeous), the movable trees and other set pieces are nearing completion, and the bubbles are smoky… what’s that, you say? Bubbles with smoke?  Hmm, I guess you’ll just have to wait and see, muahaha…

Kristin Shirilla - Acting Intern

In addition to rehearsal, this week has been full of teaching.  A few other interns and I have gone to various high schools in the Orlando/ Osceola area to work with the students on A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  We open each class with a little info about Shakespeare—where and when he lived, what plays he wrote, etc.  Then, we pick volunteers for an interactive plot summary of Midsummer, which is a ton of fun.  We narrate the story, and the students get to speak lines from the show and follow our stage directions (striking love-struck poses, casting spells, laughing mischievously, and so on).  We sometimes get a few shy students that are a little wary of being goofy in front of their classmates, but we also get enough Hams to make up for it.

After the summary, we lead the students through a paraphrasing exercise.  Paraphrasing is a common practice at Orlando Shakes, because when we (as either actors or students) understand what Shakespeare’s words mean, we can better convey that meaning to an audience.  We encourage the students to use words and phrases that they would say on a daily basis, sometimes with hilarious results!  A few of my favorite suggestions are:

  • “I alone will go” became… “I’m goin’ by myself.  Deuces!”
  • “Stay on thy peril” became… “Watch your back, and stay frosty.”
  • “Sweet Demetrius,” as a term of endearment, became… “Bieber-face” (as in Justin Bieber)
  • “O, wilt thou leave me” became… “OMG, are you leaving???”

All silliness aside,  paraphrasing is a brilliant tool to use with high school students, because putting the text into their own words makes them much more excited about Shakespeare in general.  The language barrier that turn a lot of students off of The Bard begins to break down.  It’s not unattainable language! The characters are dealing with things that they might be dealing with!  The best part is that we have students read the lines before and after we paraphrase them, and the “after” lines are always much clearer and stronger than the “before” lines.  Success!

Teaching has been great so far—I had never taught anything before this internship, but I feel very confident in the curriculum we offer, and I’m even able to organize original classes of my own!  More on that next week!

Read Kristin’s previous posts


Meet Kristin Shirilla

Kristin is a recent graduate of Ohio University’s BFA acting program, an Orlando Shakes acting intern for the 2010-2011 season.  Don’t miss her in A Midsummer Night’s Dream as Mustardseed or in Pride and Prejudice as the spoiled Lydia Bennett. Ohio University credits include THE TEMPEST (Miranda), ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA (Octavia, Lepidus, and more) and LOVE’S LABOURS LOST (Moth)


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