SHAKESPEARE MINI-FESTIVAL PROJECT (SHREW-FEST)
John Muir Middle School| Funded Spring 2018
Each year, 8th grade students at John Muir Middle School are introduced to Shakespeare through a study of the play The Taming of the Shrew. To experience Shakespeare in a fun and immersive way, their study concludes with “ShrewFest,” a 2-day mini-festival experience that brings the play to life through a professional performance, student-acted scenes (in full costume!), musical performances, and interactive Shakespeare quizzes. In the 2018-19 school year, 300 8th graders of all subgroups – including GATE, Special Education, DHH (Deaf & Hard of Hearing), and ELD (English Language Learners) – participated in this annual event.
The project began with classroom study of The Taming of the Shrew, where students read the play and discussed its major themes and the controversial issues it presents. They were then given the opportunity to watch a professional performance of the play, presented by actors from Will Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum. Students worked with Theatricum teaching artists to rehearse their own scenes from the play, which they performed on stage for their peers on the final day of ShrewFest.
“Will Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum held five performances throughout the day that also included a few of our students. The performances were fantastic and the talk-balk session after each performance was perfect. Students were able to ask questions about the process of putting on a play as well as concerns about the play’s content. It was wonderful to have the kids be able to hear opinions from people that are intimately involved in the work and are not their teachers.”
-Justin Riner, English Teacher
Mrs. Carol Flesher, retired Muir English teacher and the originator of ShrewFest, reflects on the project (click the image to read):
Student essays about the play (click the images to read):
Student journal entries about the project: