Freshmen Transport to Elizabethan Era


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For the second year in a row, Mrs. Irvin and Ms. Florez traveled with freshmen to Historic Washington State Park, in Washington, Arkansas. Here they attended four Shakespearean workshops taught by actors in the American Shakespeare Company traveling troupe: Staging Shakespeare, Music, and Twins.

“This is such a unique and valuable experience that I feel I need to share it with as many people as I can,” Mrs. Irvin said. “I will be taking my family every year anyway, so I might as well share it with other young people I care about.”

Ms. Florez expressed her enthusiasm for going to the workshops with students.

“I loved going to the workshops with the students these last two years and watching their reactions when they have to perform,” Ms. Florez said. “ Each student is involved in the process and taking responsibility for their own learning. My favorite part is the play at the end of the night. The kids are always impressed with the company’s performance. I hope our students continue to be afforded the opportunity to see it in the future.”

America Rivas saw a benefit in going to Shakespeare in the Park.

“We learned about the conditions that the actors and Shakespeare would work in and work with,” America said. “Actors had to get their own lines and not the lines of other actors. The ceiling was open air, so if it rained, the Globe Theater wouldn’t be open.”

Alex Bowlin liked seeing how a Shakespearean play is performed.

“You get somewhat the same feeling as the people who went to the plays during his time,” Alex said.

Dynasty Andrews agreed.

“We got an idea of what a Shakespeare play was like back then in the old times and the chance to feel and see how they saw things back then,” Dynasty said. “It’s important to know because those are the people that lived before us.”

Braden Springs loved getting to experience what it’s like to be one of Shakespeare’s actors.

“There is no other experience like it,” Braden said. “There is nothing else you can find just like it.”

Raquel Vaughn liked seeing how actors operate as a team.

“The main benefit is to work together with other people and learn how theater works,” Raquel said. “Theatre helps you interact with other people.”

Skyla Phifer found insight.

“Other than having an excuse to hang out with my friends, the main benefit was learning how things were done in Shakespeare’s time, which is something inspirational in itself,” Skyla Phifer said. “The difference between the Elizabethan era and ours is amazing.”

America liked the workshops the best.

“The workshops taught me how much the audience could interact with the actors, why the seats were arranged the way they were, and how sound effects were made for the play,” America said.

Students enjoyed the audience participation of the Twinning workshop where students teamed up and had to mimic each other.

“My favorite part was seeing how the actors would practice for their roles and how they would portray,” Alex said.

They loved the humor and audience participation throughout the play as well.

“The play itself was the best part because it was funnier than we had thought, and the fact that the actors included the audience was awesome!” Skyla said.

Braden liked having a change of scenery.

“My favorite part was learning new things while just hanging out with some friends because it was good to get to know the people we were with and get away from Fort Smith and into the gorgeous mountains down in Washington State Park,” Braden said.

After the workshops, the group enjoyed a bonfire with hot dogs and s’mores.

“My favorite part was when we made roasted hot dogs, even though the smell of the burnt wood was in our clothes and hair,” Raquel said.

Ms. Florez also liked the bonfire.

“The funniest part was watching all the ‘non-camping’ kids roasting hot dogs,” Ms. Florez said. “We built a campfire, and the kids had a great time trying to figure out how long it takes.”

The trip was not without a few mishaps, such as Mrs. Irvin’s husband forgetting to pack a lighter to start the bonfire for the cookout or the bus being so cold on the way back.

The students and chaperones finished their outing with a live performance by the American Shakespeare Company.

“I had never seen A Comedy of Errors performed, and I was surprised at how much more funny it was performed rather than just read,” Mrs. Irvin said. “I could tell the students understood and enjoyed it as well.”

To raise money for the trip, students sold chocolate boxes and Blue and Gold sausage. Teachers supported the trip by purchasing extra jeans days and donating $400 to Mrs. Irvin’s DonorsChoose.org. Mrs. Irvin also applied for a grant through the Arkansas Humanities Council, who paid over $600 in bus fees.

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