Shakespeare in Italy [SI] will be complementing theatrical productions with workshops related to each play. We plan to work with community groups that we will reach via the theatres where we play and attendance will not be restricted to those who have attended the performance. Our workshops will explore, amongst other things, the social issues raised by Shakespeare’s plays; universal themes such as race in Othello, race and religion in The Merchant of Venice, gender politics in The Taming of the Shrew and family strife in Romeo and Juliet, which may well affect the lives of those who come to the workshops. SI also offers workshops in UK schools.
Performance – Recitals
The founders presented recitals, based on extracts from Shakespeare’s plays, in a variety of venues in Italy.
They gave a recital, in English, for the opening of Cartoleria 18, a new mental health project in Bologna dedicated to exploring the relationship between psychology and the arts. This focused on extracts that demonstrated the range of emotional situations experienced by Shakespeare’s characters and an Italian volunteer read an introduction between each section to set the scene for the audience. This recital was also presented in the more conventional settings of the Comandini Theatre in Cesena, as part of the 7th Mantica Festival of Theatrical Research and Development, and at the Ducal Summer Festival in Urbino.
More of these events are planned in the UK and abroad. They are an opportunity to pick out issues relevant to audiences, such as the status of women in society, greed and ruthless ambition, all of which are explored by looking at particular scenes from a range of different plays in a workshop setting after the recital.
Workshops using Shakespeare to teach English
Shakespeare in Italy found that exploring the themes and texts of Shakespeare plays in Italy was an enjoyable and effective way of teaching English as a second language. We taught English in Italian schools with a focus on working on scenes from Shakespeare’s plays, rather than just reading them. The opportunity this gave to act out the story liberated the students' imaginations, giving them a different way to learn a language and teaching them new stories, plots, songs and vocabulary at the same time. We are planning to build on this experience by applying this approach to the teaching of English as a second [and sometimes third] language in the UK in a variety of community settings, including projects working with vulnerable adults, refugees and asylum seekers.
Appreciating Shakespeare – International summer schools
The summer schools in Italy [open to all] run by our founders, offered an opportunity for both close text study of three plays and then participation in performances in the beautiful historic theatre at Cagli. The schools brought people of all ages, cultures and skills together, ranging in age from 19 to 92, to learn more about Shakespeare's Italian plays in the early Renaissance UNESCO Heritage site of Urbino. Participants learned from top flight English theatre practitioners, many of them long time associates of the Royal Shakespeare Company. The summer schools are a great way of bringing people of differing ages and from different cultural and ethnic backgrounds to work together, learning about the influence of Italy in the works and exploring the” Italian” in Shakespeare. These programmes will be continued from 2017 onwards. Cost will not a barrier to attendance as bursaries are being created for those who would not be able to attend otherwise.