Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Scaffolding

I think I already do a pretty good job of offering support for our study of Julius Caesar. It's a challenging text, and one of the things I hate most about it is that there's not a lot of GOOD supplemental material. The Shakespeare Set Free series from the Folger Institute is awesome, but there's nothing in it for Caesar.

Additionally, the feature films are WAY out of date and somewhat painful to watch. I'm sure that film buffs may be able to appreciate the way that the costuming, lighting, camera work, use of color, etc. fits that particular era of film, but... that's not the audience I'm working with.

I've contacted a local Shakespeare group; they did a series of readings a year or two ago that I went to & it was pretty neat. You could tell that they were there simply because they enjoyed it. Thing is, their website hasn't been updated since last February, and I don't know if that's because they haven't had anything to add, or because the webmaster quit & hasn't been replaced, or because the entire group is kaput.

My next step will be to see if I can dig up a literature or drama class at a local college, contact the professor, and see if any of the students would be willing to come and present to my classes.

I'm not sure what else I can do. The workshop at the beginning helps generate interest, but the text is just HARD, and it doesn't take long for things to degenerate into absolute torture. I'm not sure what I can do to maintain engagement and focus. I can't say I blame the students for their frustration - it's mentally exhausting!

I feel like I'm hamstrung. A play is meant to be SEEN as a PERFORMANCE, and I've got zero access to top-notch performances. HEY RSC. WTF? WHY CAN'T YOU SELL DVDS OF YOUR PERFORMANCES? I WOULD TOTES BUY ONE. OR LIKE BUNCHES, ACTUALLY.

I would love to have some help/suggestions.

Image thanks to http://www.zdnet.com/blog/emergingtech/

4 comments:

cupcake said...

I show the Marlon Brando film version, which makes you go all retro styles because it's black and white. it's pretty faithful to the play. Yes, there are some lines missing, but to be honest, I don't think they are critical to understanding the play. It really helped my students get into the play and make sense of the drama that unfolded around Caesar's assassination and its aftermath.

Rachel said...

There is a TNT movie just called Caesar with Chris Noth & Jeremy Sisto (the latter currently has a starring role in Suburgatory). The last 40 minutes or so gives a good background regarding the bad blood Caesar had with others, and it gives up to about Act III of the play (very rough). I also showed a documentary from the Science channel titled Who Killed Julius Caesar. By and large, the students enjoyed the forensic science aspect of it, and it does give historical background, too. Frontloading with all that made them more invested in the characters once we got going.

Would it be acceptable to have the students act it out? I had seniors once re-write scenes of Macbeth and try to update it, and they had to explain why they felt like the update/change of genre worked with the themes, etc.

I know someone who tried to connect it to MeanGirls, but other than that clip with Gretchen freaking out ("We should totally just stab Caesar!"), I'm not sure how else she was going to make it work. But maybe you could!

Philip said...

I looked online to see if you missed any... It looks like you missed Zero. I suggest penning a letter to Hollywood. Or Kevin Smith.

Clix said...

So, to update - I did hear back from the local group, & it looks like they may be able to have some members come for a visit! WOOO!

Additionally, the RSC people I emailed said I'd have to contact the BBC, because their marketing department would be the ones to decide whether or not the production would be released on DVD. Just sent that email out this morning, sooo... got my fingers crossed!

Gotta say - I was just delighted with how quickly I heard back from everyone. (Well, so far!) :)

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