Friday is the premiere of Midsummer Night’s Dream with Shakespeare Club. Ever since visiting Shakespeare’s birthplace with these 8-10 year old kids I have been inspired. Here are five resources that help feed my curiosity.

Shakespeare Unlimited podcast produced by the Folger Library. This is an amazing podcast! I never heard of it before this month. I have already downloaded back episodes with titles that jumped out at me. So far particular favorite topics include: Editing Shakespeare, Portraits of Shakespeare, Barry Edelstein: Thinking Shakespeare, Derek Jacobi, the George North Manuscript. My queue is long with this one.

The Tempest ipad App Heuristic Shakespeare has set the bar for how to make a this Shakespeare app. This is technology and culture blended perfectly. I love this app. There are so many components to this. The illustrations, the video production, Ian McKellen, the other actors, the Arden edition of the text, the contextual information filled with photos and illustrations, the character charts, the character map… I have never seen anything like it. I hope there will be more.

Sonnetts iOS app – Ok, so not as wildly awesome as the Tempest app, but this app containing Arden editions (and notes) of all the Sonnetts is pretty great as well. Video of actors reading each poem is a delight. I was particularly impressed to see Cicely Berry. She was the voice director at the Royal Shakespeare Company from 1969-2014. Her landmark book the The Voice and the Actor is a cornerstone for many voice training books and teachers who came after.

John Barton Playing Shakespeare (speaking of cornerstones.) John Barton’s Playing Shakespeare series is also regarded as foundational. He says in the video that he had been asked to write a book but he always felt that “each actor and his experience is worth many books.” That might be particularly true when you assemble Judi Dench, Ian McKellen, Patrick Stewart, and Ben Kingsley. These old VHS tapes were hard to get a hold of when I was a teenager and there was a mysterious legend built up around them. I eventually found all of them in the Los Angeles Public Library. Buying a copy both then and now was and is expensive. Now you can watch all nine episodes on YouTube. Barton did eventually write a book based on these workshops, but to follow his advice, you should really witness these actors take on the role of “explorers or detectives.”

How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare by Ken Ludwig. This is an invaluable resource for me. I was teaching Shakespeare 20 years ago to children ages 11-15. But that seems like a lifetime ago. This book unlocks a lot of the old doors that I was exploring back then. When you think about it, before television and radio, all we had for entertainment was reading stories out loud to each other. This book is great because it makes Shakespeare approachable as read aloud material for families and adds elements of play. You can hear an interview where he explains his process and gives some other reading suggestions on another fantastic podcast the Read Aloud Revival.

Shakespeare Club presents A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Friday at 4:00pm and Saturday at 12:00pm at the American School of Wroclaw Library. The show is around 45 minutes and appropriate for All Ages. You can join the event by clicking here. Or you can join the Shakespeare Club group here.

 

Art Making

I’m directing A Midsummer Night’s Dream with 8-10 year olds. It is a follow up to last year’s A Tempest. This year the young performers have really begun to develop their characters through gestures. They are also reading the play keeping their cues and blocking in mind.

Teaching

This final unit of IB Drama is pretty exciting and I am pleased with the Inquiry Statements and planning that has happened. MYP 5 students are really excited with The On Camera class. We will take a field trip to a casting director. Some students might even sign up to be on their talent roster.

Producing

Shakespeare Club took a learning holiday trip to Oxford, England. Each actor was accompanied by a parent. The itinerary was busy with visits and workshops to Pitt Rivers Museum, the Story Museum, Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, RSC, and the Dahl Museum. The trip was amazing.

Art Making

I was a principal actor in a feature film. I was so relaxed on set. Everyone was doing their job, and were good at it. This is the director’s first feature. But he has shot lots of commercials, videos and television. And he had the award winning Pawel Edelman as D.P. setting up the frames. I am looking forward to see how it looks.

Teaching

Grade 4/5 students started a literary Journal. The kids came up with an awesome name Disco Attic. “Reading is like a party, but in your head.” #quoteofthemonth

Producing

creativesummer.org has finally been published. I’m telling the world about it. There are still lots of tweaks. It is not a perfect website, but it happened fast and it was quite affordable. I’ve created a “Now page” that lists the tools I used to start building the Aardvark Arts brand this year and its on-line presence.

Hello friends. I have been working for over a year planning a big project for this summer and I’m finally ready to share it with the world.

I am running a creative arts program in Wroclaw, Poland for kids 8-15. It is called Creative Summer / Kreatywne Lato

Please have a look creativesummer.org

Crash Course Theater has arrived. I was so excited for this. One episode in and I am not disappointed. Add it to the syllabus.

Here is a round up of things I am using or liking or proud of right now. Click around or have a listen.

•Recent accomplishment I’m proud of: Seth Compton (VI)’s IMDB page. Yup. I finally got a credit.

•Funniest video I watched this week: While it was a disappointing finish to the Super Bowl this guy’s preparation is hilarious.

•Podcast I’m listening to this week: Interview with Scottish professor at Brown University. Mark Blyth State of the Union from Open Source Radio. This podcast kind of rocked me. Maybe it was his accent. Open Source is consistently fantastic.

•How I map the Internet: Remember that website you were looking at last week? It was loaded with all that good “information?” Did you write it down? Did you email it to yourself? Or bookmark it (which computer was it?)? Bookmarking services solve this problem. I used del.icio.us for a long time. I loved it. Along with an RSS reader it basically mapped the Internet for me. When the creators of YouTube bought it I thought it would someday be the center of everything somehow. But they lost interest. And sold it. And it started breaking bit by bit. I was aware of Pinboard back when it was free. But I am a Larry-and-Magic kind-of-loyalist so I resisted. Then Pinboard added a subscription, and then I really dug my heels in. For the past year or so I haven’t added anything to my bookmarks (or been reading many blogs for that matter). Just this year I realized it had been bought. By Mr. Pinboard himself. So now, I’m in. I like the minimal design. I like the business model and the pricing is fair (this service is not going away and I bought a 5 year subscription). I haven’t imported my old links yet (since they probably need a lot of weeding).  I also like his sense of humor. From his blog: “I know there are lots of rival bookmarking services out there. I will consume them, one by one, like I consumed the pie.” Read the blog here.

•Handy web tool if you looking for that perfect emoji: Emojipedia.org helped me formulate this for my 6 and 7 year old Shakespeare Fun students. Note to self: never use Eggplant emoji unless you really mean it.

Storytelling, music, theater fun, games.

After collecting hundreds of donations of great chapter books, the American School and Aardvark Arts is opening the library on the weekends. I will be telling stories and doing theater activities. Then if families would like to sign up they can pay a fee of 30zl and deposit of 20zl and borrow up to three books. (The fees are waived for ASW families.) We are opening this weekend. Books every child should hear.

Christmas Wreaths by Wiki Tiki. I was at a family event in the fall and saw this wreath making activity. I spoke to Monika, the woman in charge and a few months later she brought her team to ASW for the Holiday Performance. Aardvark Arts sponsored the event. It is awesome seeing people get into it. Putting a wreath together makes you to think creatively and make aesthetic decisions. It is a beautiful idea and a big success at family events.

A Door In the Wall – this is a book set in Medieval England. It is… slow. Not much happens. A boy has an illness and loses the ability to walk. It is about his recovery and his growth. I’m in a moment in my life when I am jamming on a keyboard, tapping on tablet, and swiping on my phone constantly. When I come home from work and want to go deeper with my projects, I have a hard time focusing and committing extra effort. This book is an excellent reminder that patience is a good teacher and hard work is a virtue in itself. I told my mom about this book and she remembered reading it over 40 years ago. 

Creative Summer / Kreatywne Lato is a Summer arts program for 8-15 year olds next summer in Wroclaw (creativesummer.org). Last week a landing page went up where I’m collecting email addresses for anyone who is interested. In January, I will be releasing full details and plans and opening up enrollment. #bigproject

Concourse. I have been a long time fan of Matthew Butterick’s Practical Typography for years now. It is a constant inspiration for me. I finally bought his sans serif font Concourse. It is beautiful. With such a generous license it will feature heavily in Aardvark Arts posters (see above), web design and newsletters.

Recaps, highlights or summaries of NBA, NFL and NHL on YouTube allows me to watch a sports game in under 10 minutes. This is perfect amount of time. These video channels are sparking a renaissance for my interest in American sports. For NBA games it is almost exclusively offence. So it’s frustrating when your team is losing because you don’t see if the other team is making great defensive stops or your team is just missing. Also in these NBA edits I miss the commentary which fills in a lot of info about players and the season they are having. The NFL and NHL game summaries are the best because so much exciting action is not just touchdowns and goals. Also, no commercials!