High school, college students team up to tame Shakespeare

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Austin Loukas

Shakespeare's "The Taming of the Shrew" was the focus of a special workshop-laden event that brought together college and high school students.

Nicole Zukowski, Staff Writer

Associate professor of English Janet W. Starner and her English 324 Shakespeare class welcomed eighth, ninth and 10th grade students from Gillingham Charter School in Pottsville to Wilkes University on Thursday, Nov. 15, for an event celebrating the iconic scribe’s play “The Taming of the Shrew.”

The event went from 7 to 9 p.m. in Kirby Hall and took students through four different workshop stations, each lasting 25 minutes.

“This experience will help us gain different approaches of teaching Shakespeare,” Elizabeth Dollman, a junior English, Spanish and education major who volunteered her time for the event, said.

“The Taming of the Shrew” is about two sisters whose father implements a rule that one is to be courted before the other. The sister to be courted proves spiteful, however, and scares away all potential suitors. The play was one of the required texts read by the Gillingham students.

“I thought it would be fun to pair college students with high school student and see the different interpretations,” Starner said.

One of the workshop stations at the event was named “Editions, Editions, Editions.” Here, the Gillingham students read portions of “The Taming of the Strew” from different editions including Oxford Edition, the play script. the Norton edition — the one Starner’s class used — and the First Folio.

In keeping with the idea of comparing different interpretations of Shakespeare, another workshop station was “Translations,” which sought to make Shakespearean language more accessible to modern audiences.

“Learning what the meaning is when you translate the play makes it easier to understand,” Amy West, a ninth grader at Gillingham, said. “That’s why I liked the ‘Translations’ station the best.”

Another workshop station, “Lights, Camera, Action,” used YouTube videos to show even more different interpretations of the story. The workshop that seemed to steal the night, however, was “The Wooing Station”. Here, the students were able to separate into groups and perform a “wooing” scene from the play.

“I liked acting it out,” Anthony Knabb, a ninth grade student at Gillingham, said. “It gave me a better understating of what that scene was really about.”

The event was as much as a learning experience for Wilkes student as it was for the Gillingham students, Jon Kadjeski, a senior English and education major, said. Kadjeski was also a group leader at the event and saw firsthand the effect of the event on the Gillingham students.

“My group started out really quiet and shy but when we got to ‘The Wooing Station, the kids came out of their shells and started to talk more. It’s fascinating to see how performing helps the kids to develop a better understanding and grasp of the play.”