1 Janice Bland, University of Paderborn Slipping Back in Time: King of Shadows as Play Script Susan Cooper s time-slip novel King of Shadows (Cooper 1999, Carnegie Medal short-listed) throws light on its pre-text A Midsummer Night s Dream and Shakespearian theatre. This is sometimes known as Shakespearing children s literature, as it draws some of the cultural capital of Shakespeare into the epitext of the contemporary work. Adrian Mitchell s play script adaptation of King of Shadows is shorter than the original young adult novel, and is suitable, for example, for year-olds in the mid-secondary EFL classroom. Through the time-slip trope, the students simultaneously experience the Elizabethan playhouse world, and become an actor in it, much like the protagonist who has slipped back in time. The play includes short passages from A Midsummer Night s Dream both in a contemporary play-within-the-play in the London Globe of 1999 and an Elizabethan production in 1599 in Shakespeare s Globe. This paper highlights the importance of emotional involvement through story, providing a more visceral introductory experience of Shakespeare, and the significance of the Globe for an initial understanding of Elizabethan theatre. Furthermore it suggests the immortal even to the edge of doom splendour of Shakespearian poetry (Sonnet 116, another inter-text) can more impressively reach students through their performing the language from within the aesthetic illusion of the Elizabethan storyworld. 1. The uses of drama The King of Shadows has a storyline with a clear goal: the performance of A Midsummer Night s Dream in the contemporary Globe Theatre by an American company of boy actors. It is suitable for acting out in school, as it has a large cast of young people. Drama, suspense and empathy are aroused when the protagonist, a tragically bereaved young actor, slips back in time to play the same role, Puck, at the Globe in Shakespeare s time. Shakespeare is to perform Oberon to his Puck, and Shakespeare himself, having recently lost his only son Hamnet, becomes the father figure that the young orphan craves. King of Shadows, like all good stories, is less about the events of the plot and more about how the drama transforms the protagonist, and changes the reader too. Stories are about how we, rather than the world around, us change. They grab us only when they allow us to experience how it would feel to navigate the plot. Thus story [ ] is an internal journey, not an external one. (Cron 2012: 11, emphasis in the original) Reading and enacting plays for children can support literary literacy in the EFLliterature classroom: it can foster an understanding of characterisation, an interest in the theatre and can help prepare for the canonised play scripts of the upper-secondary school, the cultural heritage justification for drama. Moreover,
2 many scholars consider the affective dimension of central importance in language teaching. According to Earl Stevick (1980: 4), for second language teaching success depends less on materials, techniques and linguistic analyses, and more on what goes on inside and between the people in the classroom. Working towards a whole-group goal promotes group cohesiveness, students self-confidence and self-esteem. Working on a play together supports a motivating classroom environment: One of the most salient features of the classroom environment is the quality of the relationships between the class members. The quality of teaching and learning is entirely different depending on whether the classroom is characterized by a climate of trust and support or by a competitive, cutthroat atmosphere. (Dörnyei 2007: 720) I have chosen to concentrate on the play script of King of Shadows for two reasons. First because, although much shorter than the original novel, it sustains a great deal of the detail on Shakespeare s world as well as the fascination and suspense, the rush of intoxication a good story triggers [ so that we become] willing pupils, primed to absorb the myriad lessons each story imparts (Cron 2012: 2). Secondly because working on a play in the EFL/ESL classroom through group work (see section on interpretation through drama processes below) as well as with the aim of performance helps fulfil most of the criteria for a motivating classroom environment listed in Dörnyei (2007: ). These include: proximity, contact, and interaction; the rewarding nature of group activities; investing in the group; extracurricular activities, whereby students lower their school filter and relate to each other as civilians rather than students, and cooperation toward common goals. Drama is a holistic method that utilises different semiotic systems simultaneously. Anstey and Bull (2009: 28) identify five semiotic systems and, referring to developing new literacies in the technological age, they argue that the linguistic should not take precedence over the other semiotic systems. Drama makes thorough use of all five semiotic systems, as follows 1. the linguistic system, which includes the written play script, stage directions and spoken dialogue. Although plays are not written to be read, but performed and watched, the linguistic system is nonetheless paramount in Shakespeare. The Elizabethan elite sat on galleries above the stage, in the Lords rooms. These prestigious seats (which play a role in the King of Shadows) allowed the Elizabethan gentry not only excellent conditions for listening to the poetry, but also offered the opportunity to be seen and join in the action by making educated and witty comments. This is illustrated in Act 5, Scene 1 of A Midsummer Night s Dream, when Bottom and the Mechanicals perform Pyramus and Thisbe at court, and the courtiers constantly interrupt their absurd performance. 2. the visual system, which includes scenery, props and costumes. This semiotic system has become much more salient in contemporary culture. The view of the stage was often restricted in the Elizabethan playhouse, and as the plays were
3 performed by afternoon daylight with minimal scenery, the suspension of disbelief was created by word-scenery rather than by visual representation of the scene (Pfister 1988: 16). However, the sense of wonder and magic was supported by the dazzling costumes and richly painted interior of the Globe, as highlighted in King of Shadows. 3. the gestural system, which includes facial expression, body language, movement and stillness. The training of Elizabethan actors included tumbling and fencing, and the acrobatic nature of performances is demonstrated throughout King of Shadows. 4. the audio system, which includes music, sound effects, rhythm and silence. As the groundlings could eat, drink, hiss, applaud and interact with the action on stage (and may do all of these also in the contemporary London Globe), the auditorium, which according to etymology means pertaining to hearing rather than viewing, was lively and interactive, particularly during the clown scenes. This is expressed in King of Shadows, and will be discussed in the section below on the Globe. 5. the spatial system, which includes the set, the positioning of characters to the stage, to each other and to the audience. The understanding of personal space (and safety) has changed a great deal since Elizabethan theatre: the groundlings and seated audience were packed in extremely tightly, to the action, the actors and to each other. The experience must have been more than cosy for those who could not afford the more splendid galleries near and above the stage. Contemporary regulations limit the size of audience of today s Globe to one half of the maximum size in Shakespeare s day, which was around three thousand (Gurr 2011: 29). The gathering together, if not crowding together, of very mixed levels of society is maintained as far as possible in the contemporary Globe. The price of standing space for groundlings in the 21 st century is five British pounds, by far the cheapest available theatre tickets at a major London theatre. This complex combination of semiotic systems in theatre, particularly in Elizabethan theatre, bears a resemblance to the interactive language play of children, with its vocal-visual and vocal-tactile choreography (Crystal 1998: 164). The interaction of groundlings, gentry and actors meant that especially the comic scenes were not set in stone, although they appear so on the modern printed page. The link between the rich semiotics of drama and children s play is echoed in the polysemic word play, which also refers to a stage play. Although play is important for the holistic learning of young adult students too, it requires careful preparation; otherwise drama processes such as freeze frames may seem foolish, and neither be welcomed nor achieve the desired interpretative results. As Moses Goldberg (1974: 4), an influential drama educator, has argued, both what he calls creative dramatics (without a script) and recreational drama (scripted drama) aim for the development of the whole child through a group process. Goldberg also stresses that the term recreation is not meant to signal drama as a diversion activity but as one that allows for the re-creation of the self. In the EFL classroom, both drama with
4 play scripts and drama processes have the potential to provide multi-sensory clues to meaning, and both give students the opportunity to learn to trust and enjoy their linguistic resources and extend their repertoire. Thus, both scripted and unscripted drama should have a place in TEFL teacher education, for according to Showalter (t)eaching is itself a dramatic art and it takes place in a dramatic setting (Showalter 2003: 79). The value of enacting drama in order to rehearse a change of perspective has been underlined (Nünning and Surkamp 2006: 147, Volkmann 2008: 187). Negotiating meaning and understanding through active involvement and active reflection creates the opportunity to change perspective when enacting the different roles. However, a change of perspective is also rehearsed imaginatively with the aesthetic illusion of narrative fiction, provided the students have the appropriate schemata, and this is certainly the case with the young adult novel King of Shadows. The novel remediated as play script offers the additional opportunity for reading aloud or acting out, script in hand. Reading aloud requires an understanding of the tempo and rhythms of the text, the meanings of utterances and silences; acting out requires still more familiarity with the script in order to begin, perhaps in groups, a choreography of suitable gestures, facial expression and movements. The opportunity to rehearse multiple perspectives is intensified by employing interpretive drama processes, which will be discussed below. Different kinds of phonological and semantic repetition are probably the most salient characteristics of literary texts, and repetition is the characteristic that sustains cohesion (Bland 2013: ). Repetition in an external sense is very much in evidence when performing King of Shadows: acting out and rehearsing, reinterpreting the play in a new performance, the possibility of interpreting the drama as a remediation of a more detailed narrative text, and the repetition of Shakespearian themes, language and motifs through the intertextuality woven throughout the plot. Acting out an authentic play script, far from the uncreative act it has been considered in recent pedagogy, can combine linguistic creativity with the creativity of performance. Bauman refers to the dynamics of performance, including storytelling, as a recognition of alternative and shifting frames available for the recontextualisation of texts. Successive reiterations, even of texts for which performance is the expected, preferred, or publicly foregrounded mode of presentation, may be variously framed: reported, rehearsed, demonstrated, translated, relayed, quoted, summarised, or parodied, to suggest but a few of the intertextual possibilities. (Bauman 2005: 421) However, there is a lack of critical discussion of plays for young adults, and the relevant texts are largely unknown to educators and teachers. One of the main themes of King of Shadows is the beneficial potential of drama on children s and adults lives. The educational benefits of drama are extremely diverse, and yet recreational drama (the re-creation of the self) simply as an escape from harsh reality should not be underestimated. At the same time, all good stories are a dress rehearsal for the future (Cron 2012: 9), and this is very obviously the case
5 with King of Shadows, which prepares EFL/ESL students splendidly for Shakespeare in the upper secondary school or tertiary education. Peter Hollindale s pronouncement on drama for children and young adults calls urgently for critical attention: Given the historical depth of children s drama, the long tradition of children s creative involvement as participants, not just spectators, the diversity of educational gains which it affords, and the omnipresence of drama in contemporary adult life, it should no longer be acceptable for children s drama to be the impoverished curricular and theatrical Cinderella which it currently is. (Hollindale 2001: 220) Drama works by bringing participants closer to the subject through emotional engagement but at the same time preserving a distance by virtue of the fact that the context is make-believe (Byram and Fleming 1998: 143). King of Shadows draws the reader/spectator into the storyworld, the theme of filial and parental love and grief is very moving and persuasive. However, a distance is preserved and emphasised by the time-slip trope: Time-slip novels, by virtue of the fact that they straddle different times, may be useful in rendering oblique commentary on particular times through their juxtaposition with other historical periods, and also in working through ideas about historical process (Ang 2001: 707). and his predicament come vividly alive for the reader, with we experience emotionally, sensuously and intellectually acting in the Globe of contemporary London and in the Elizabethan Globe of Shakespeare s day. 2. King of Shadows, an American boy actor whose voice has not yet broken (Cooper and Mitchell 2011: 16) is invited to the Globe Theatre London, to perform Puck in A Midsummer Night s Dream. In a fantasy sequence in an otherwise realistic (and well-researched) plot, is transported back in time to become a guest actor in a production of the magical Dream commanded by Elizabeth I, who wishes to visit the new Globe Theatre in secret, as it stands on the rather disreputable south bank of the Thames. This area was outside of the formal regulations of the Lord Mayor of London, as it was beyond the city walls. Therefore popular but suspiciously viewed entertainments such as bear baiting (which plays a role in King of Shadows) as well as the new feature of city life, theatre in open-air playhouses, were frequently established here. Despite the hostility of the Lord Mayor, the new playhouses were well liked, and in 1599 thousands of spectators flocked in the afternoons to the newly built Globe, many leaving their workplace to do so (Gurr 2011: 6-7). Shakespeare s Globe is introduced by productions of A Midsummer Night s Dream simultaneously four centuries apart. Richard Burbage and William Shakespeare have arranged to hire a young actor han Field (also a historical figure) from the rival theatre company St Paul s, and it is this boy that the
6 modern briefly and inexplicably replaces. To the young adult reader, A Midsummer Night s Dream will be introduced and interpreted in relation to the after-text King of Shadows, as, especially with regard to younger readers, the operation of intertextuality may be achronological (Stephens 2010: 195). In this sense too, the Shakespearian schema of the student in the EFL-literature classroom is likely to be similar to that of the slightly younger native speaker who is reading or performing King of Shadows, and the non-native speaker will be in the same position to enjoy performing the passages of pre-text play-withinthe-play in the light of the after-text. Shakespeare is the resident Globe wordsmith when joins the company, as their new and rather strange Puck (only is aware of the timeslip). Shakespeare is fatherly to, who had lost his mother to cancer, and more recently also lost his father, a poet who committed suicide when unable to overcome the death of his wife. These wounds have not healed, but is supported by the American Company of Boys until he suddenly loses his entire known reality by inexplicably moving back in time. The Romantic notion of the inspired and remote author is interrogated though the figure of Will Shakespeare, who is characterized as a practical, business-like, paternal and deeply human actor-playwright. He quickly discovers s misery and tries to comfort him: Will Will Will Will Field. Thou hast a lot to bear. [Defensively] He didn t mean me to find him. He d locked the door and left a note for Aunt Jen, with the key. He just didn t know there was a spare key. I have seen men die. Too often, and always for bad reasons. But here is thy father dying for love of a woman, and that is even harder to bear, especially for his son. I had a son Had? He died, three years ago. He was just your age. A sweet pretty boy. I m sorry. Thy loss was the greater. I have two daughters still, one of them his twin. (Cooper and Mitchell 2011: 48) This is the culture of Shakespeare on a level that is meaningful to mid-secondary students, as most adolescents fear loss in one way or another. It is more manageable linguistically due to the gripping story and emotional appeal, and the vivid detail of the Elizabethan storyworld context. Perhaps most importantly, an introduction to Shakespearian theatre in the mid-secondary school will help EFL students acquire an Elizabethan schema in a pleasurable way, an important preparation if their school curriculum requires study of Shakespeare in the upper secondary school. Furthermore, cultural capital knowing society s cultural codes is almost as important as knowing society s linguistic codes. Those students who learn to appreciate and manage or, when necessary, manipulate
7 cultural codes are empowered; those students who never learn to manage them are likely to remain powerless. Fortunately an introduction to cultural capital through children s literature can, and I argue should, begin well before the upper secondary school. Cooper and Mitchell s King of Shadows brings the reader/performer and audience right into the mucky, smelly yet vital world of Elizabethan London. As walks through the streets of London of 1599 for the first time, the firstperson narrative of the young adult novel is represented in the play script as a chorus of voices: Voice One Voice Two Voice Three Voice One Men with sacks of coal on their backs. Women with baskets of laundry on their heads. Carts clattering over the cobbles. Creaking, rocking. Splashing up muck from the stinking ditches. Fat flies buzzing around your head. Voice Four This whole street stinks. (Cooper and Mitchell 2011: 35) While reading the Voices of Scene 7 aloud in the EFL classroom, the London street scene could be performed by the students, with the actions and street cries of those selling their wares or services, the shouts of their customers and passers by, the sounds of church bells and watchmen s hand bells. This is an authentic experience of drama as (d)ramatic texts have the potential to activate all channels of the human senses (Pfister 1988: 7). Treating a play as a text to be performed will achieve a better understanding of the ludic nature of literature, and drama particularly. Furthermore, it may empower students to find their own individual, playful voice through performance, which is always a co-creation. It is significant that the contemporary Company of Boys in King of Shadows, like the Elizabethan theatre, denies girls and women within the storyworld of the play the opportunity to perform identity on stage. The modern Globe in London performs largely with mixed casts. However, it also experiments with all-male and all-female casts in their Shakespeare performances. The aspect of identity and variable subject positions as performance on the world stage is very important in young adult literature, and the protagonist s quest for agency is frequently a leitmotif. This quest can be brought alive and interrogated by similarly acting out gender swapping during drama processes for literary interpretation. Of the various thematic strands in A Midsummer Night s Dream the lovers in the wood, Bottom and the comic Mechanicals, and the quarrels between Oberon the Fairy King and Titania the Fairy Queen it is the latter subplot that plays the more substantial role in King of Shadows. Oberon is named King of Shadows by his mischievous servant Puck, and lines from the Shakespeare play are quoted when rehearses first with the modern-day Oberon, Gil, and later with Will, who plays Oberon as actor-playwright at the Globe. The magic of A Midsummer Night s Dream reappears strongly in the
8 after-text. This is not because of the time-slip trope, which initially causes less wonder than confusion and pain for. The magic of King of Shadows is created by the way a poet, his authority as father figure and mentor, and the wonder of his poetry can help to overcome his grief. The following shows how this is expressed in a passage from the original young adult novel: As for Will Shakespeare, he was King of Fairyland and of the whole world, as far as I was concerned. He wasn t a great actor; he didn t have that indescribable special gift that Richard Burbage had, that could in an instant fill a theater with roars of laughter, or with prickling cold silence. But as Oberon he had an eerie authority that made me, as Puck, totally his devoted servant. (Cooper 1999: 123) On the one hand, King of Shadows is challenging in its thematic complexity, and offers opportunities to study the pre-texts, intertexts and epitexts: A Midsummer Night s Dream, sonnet 116, the original young adult novel, historical backgrounds, as well as the iconic cultural settings of the two Globe Theatres. On the other hand, King of Shadows can stand alone, for the strong emotional trajectory of the story gives us a reason to care both about and about Shakespeare. This makes it a moving and accessible play, giving meaning to the cultural code that is Shakespeare, as well as a fitting introduction to the tenderness and humanity of his legacy. Understanding s pain, Shakespeare presents him with his sonnet 116, Let me not to the marriage of true minds : Will [Takes a sheet of stiff, curling paper from his doublet] This is a sonnet I copied for thee after we talked the other day. It is about love, and loving. I wrote it for a woman, but it could just as well be for thee and thy father,. I give it to you to remind you that love does not vanish with death. (Cooper and Mitchell 2011: 57-58) This poem becomes extremely important for, for when he returns to contemporary London, he loses his father all over again. The han Field he had changed places with spent the same length of time in a contemporary London hospital, seriously ill and delirious with Bubonic plague, in strict isolation. Gil (the contemporary Oberon) and Rachel (assistant director), help piece together the mystery. Gil Gil Gil You were switched with han Field so he could be cured of the plague. Who switched us? [Shrugs] Time. God. Fate. Depends what you believe in. Field wasn t so very special to have that happen. It wasn t done for Field. Rachel Oh, my Lord! Shakespeare! [Gil nods and grins] In 1599 Shakespeare was only in his thirties, he wrote most of his great plays after that. If he d acted with Field instead of you, he d have caught the plague and died.
9 Gil We wouldn t have had Hamlet or Othello or King Lear. We wouldn t have the best playwright that ever lived. If you hadn t gone back in time, William Shakespeare would have died young. (Cooper and Mitchell 2011: 85) Thus the Cooper text belongs to the mainstream of children s literature as a humanist and strongly teleological text: a vulnerable boy learns to come to terms with his loss, partly through his love of theatre and poetry and partly through the means of time slip, which was mysteriously orchestrated to save the life of Will Shakespeare. 3. The Globe Theatre The King of Shadows is in no way a didactic text ( didactic is used here in the sense of dogmatic or pedantic). Rather, it is surprising how many details concerning the staging of plays at the Globe are revealed quite naturally by the action of the play. The near circular shape of the wooden Elizabethan playhouses it is thought the Globe was 20-sided, and the new Globe mirrors this is described by Shakespeare in the prologue to Henry V as a wooden O. This was originally pronounced nought (= zero) to rhyme with (anglicised) Agincourt, and as a pun (the theatre as nothing or nought compared to the vast fields of France) Henry V was probably first played in early 1599 in an inferior playhouse previous to the building of the Globe: Can this cockpit hold The vasty fields of France? Or may we cram Within this wooden 0 the very casques [helmets] That did affright the air at Agincourt? However wooden 0 (nought) is usually spoken as wooden O by modern actors. The round cockpit shape of the Elizabethan playhouses is due to the animal baiting arenas that predated them: The first playhouses resembled the bear and bull-baiting rings (Gurr 2011: 7). Despite the architectural associations with a sport that is shown to be cruel and bloody in King of Shadows, the Globe was (and still is) admired for its shape that offers dynamic acting and interactive opportunities. Will Will We shall rehearse together soon, Puck. I am to play thine Oberon. I am glad, King of Shadows. [Laughs] Good lad. Classes, Richard. [Will glances up at the sky] Time passes. This wooden O of ours is a sundial. (Cooper and Mitchell 2011: 39) The Elizabethan audiences were impressed by the sumptuous colours of the costumes and brightly painted wooden structures and decorations. The wooden stage of the Globe is high so that the groundlings look up to the actors. is able to jump down from the stage as Puck because he is an expert tumbler
10 (Cooper and Mitchell 2011: 24). The stage is also deep, and it is believed that it was painted in brilliant colours. The Company of Boys are similarly awed when they enter the reconstruction of the Globe for their first rehearsal: Arby Ferdie Wow! Arby Welcome to the Globe. They re nearly all around us. Our audience. Rows of seats reared up in galleries, way high, very steep. And down there, that s where the groundlings stand. Rachel What happens when it rains? Arby They get wet. But the actors don t. See, we ve got a little roof over the stage. Painted with a bright blue sky Eric And the sun and moon and stars. (Cooper and Mitchell 2011: 26) The groundlings are an important asset in Shakespearian theatre, they energised performances with their audible and visible presence and this two-way dynamic is welcomed at contemporary Globe performances, particularly during the comedy scenes. This is demonstrated in the young adult novel when a groundling tries to warn Puck that he is about to drip love potion into the eyes of the wrong lover Lysander instead of Demetrius: The girl called again, urgently I could see her out of the corner of my eye, a round-faced pretty girl staring up at me, completely caught up in the play No, Puck, prithee he is the wrong man! (Cooper 1999: 125) The willingness of the crowd to take part is exploited in the play script to disguise the secret arrival of Queen Elizabeth, to enjoy A Midsummer Night s Dream in the new Globe, instead of waiting to watch it at court. A thief is caught among the groundlings: Voices Stop thief! Stop thief! Catch him! Will Two groundlings grab the felon and wrench a leather purse away from him. Another cutpurse. What ll they do? Will Tie him up and pelt him Voices [As the Felon is dragged towards the stage] Pelt him! Pelt him! (Cooper and Mitchell 2011: 62-63) A startling scene develops between the thief and a drunk waving a dagger, until Richard Burbage strides on to the stage in an awesome scarlet cloak, snatches the dagger away from the drunk and takes over: Gentles all! Let us be merciful and spare this stinking little villain a pelting, for he has already had his punishment. This little drama has been deliberately staged to involve and distract the audience:
11 I don t understand. Will A diversion,. [ is still bewildered] While those two enacted my drama of The Cutpurse and the Drunk, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth has arrived unnoticed to watch our play. Will points to a gallery overlooking the right-hand side of the stage where two or three masked faces watch. One of them is the Queen. (Cooper and Mitchell 2011: 64). As already noted, visually presented stage scenery was almost nonexistent in Elizabethan drama. Word scenery had the advantage that character perspective could additionally be portrayed (Pfister 1988: ), and Puck and the fairies descriptions of the woodland settings, for example, reveal their cheerful delight in the loveliness of the forest environment, and of course their familiarity with the shadows of midnight. The celebrated actor Richard Burbage plays Bottom in King of Shadows. His comic lines of word scenery at the final wedding feast, though not quoted in King of Shadows, might be introduced to show how Elizabethan drama included different registers for its mixed audiences. Bottom as Pyramus (Act 5, Scene 1), exaggeratedly sets the scene in a comic parody of a poetic tragedy. He appears to describe the night first to the educated gentry in the galleries above the stage, with his second line to the seated auditorium surrounding the stage, and finally, in case the the uneducated groundlings standing in broad daylight have misunderstood the poetry, simply O night, O night : O grim-look d night, O night with hue so black, O night which ever art when day is not! O night, O night The foolishness of the mechanicals in underestimating their audience is furthermore expressed when they reveal their belief that they must physically present the Moonshine and the Wall on stage, and do not trust to their lines of poetry to do so. Readers of King of Shadows are often surprised to learn that the now disused forms thou, thee, thine, thy, thyself were used by people of high rank or authority to those with less authority, to express the discrepancy between their positions, but also by the working folk to each other, to express a closeness. In contrast to the perception of informality in modern English, it is the more formal pronoun of the thou/you binary that has been retained, Thou commonly expressed special intimacy or affection; you, formality, politeness, and distance (Crystal 2003: 71). Even the Elizabethan han Field, as a stranger and as a child in Shakespeare s Globe, might have used you almost as much as the twentieth century does. But didn t s American accent give him away? This is another surprise to the reader of King of Shadows: Gil Fetch me that flower: the erb I shew d thee once Rachel Herb, Gill, not erb. This is England.
12 Gil the herb I shew d thee once: The juice of it on sleeping eyelids laid Will make or man or woman madly dote Upon the next creature that it sees. Fetch me this herb: and be thou here again Ere the leviathan can swim a league. I ll put a girdleround the earth In forty minutes Rachel Girdle round. Two words. I ll put a girdle round yeah, thanks. How was the rest? Rachel Speed s just right now. Not too Southern? Rachel you probably sound more the way they did in Shakespeare s time than anyone else in this company. Or any English actor. You kidding? Rachel It s true. The English and the Scots settled those North Carolina mountains of yours. They took their accents with them. They didn t hear too many other accents up there so they didn t change. (Cooper and Mitchell 2011: 23) The students reading King of Shadows could listen to a recording of Sonnet 116, Let me not to the marriage of true minds, published by the British Library Board. This recording attempts to approximate the accent of Shakespearian English. 1 The British Library recordings were directed by Ben Crystal, actor and son of the renowned linguist David Crystal, and some are accessible online, courtesy of the Telegraph. The same newspaper webpage (Telegraph: ) quotes Sir Trevor Nunn as maintaining that American accents are closer than contemporary English to the accents of those used in the Bard s day. Shakespeare s puns, rhythms and rhymes give clues to how the lines may have been spoken, and interestingly it was closer to a Southern American accent, and regional accents of the British Isles, than to the contemporary prestige accent of British English, Received Pronunciation. 4. Interpretative drama processes Drama processes provide context-embedded, stimulating language-learning opportunities and are now well established in many different educational contexts. Drama processes generally require whole-body responses, for example 1
13 to literary texts; they may illuminate the perspective structure of the storyworld, and may reveal the verisimilitude and consistency of characters. The first drama technique that I would recommend to introduce students to a Shakespeare play is known as the Whoosh, a highly interactive technique that enables any kind of story simple or complex to be brought alive, even without prior knowledge of the characters or plot (Farmer 2010). This should be used in the EFL classroom to establish the basic storyline of A Midsummer Night s Dream, as it is helpful to know this when working on King of Shadows. Whereas a nativespeaker young adult audience would probably already be familiar with the plot outline of A Midsummer Night s Dream, this is not necessarily the case with EFL students. A Whoosh is both very enjoyable and very effective; in the shortest possible time students have experienced the plot in a multi-sensory, memorable way. To begin with a student is invited to play Duke Theseus, a regal and respected figure (he may, for example, be applauded by the other students as he moves into the space for drama, which need not be too big). The Duke greets Hippolyta, his bride to be (this will be mimed or ad-libbed by the students representing these two characters). Next, two students are invited to represent Hermia and her father, who is furious with his daughter (the student playing the father improvises an argument with his disobedient daughter, Hermia). Lysander and Demetrius should now enter the scene; they both profess their undying love for Hermia. This should not be too seriously improvised; A Midsummer Night s Dream is a comedy. The ad-libbing continues as the teacher moves through the plot, step by step, while the students improvise their roles, following the instructions of the teacher. Whenever certain characters should leave the scene, the teacher waves her arms and calls Whoosh. This important stratagem can also send the entire class back to their places, for example if chaos threatens to take over. A Midsummer Night s Dream: brief outline for Whoosh activity Duke Theseus plans his wedding with Hippolyta. Hermia s father asks the Duke to execute his daughter, who refuses to marry the man he favours, Demetrius. Hermia arranges to run away with her lover, Lysander, into the wood at night. Demetrius chases them into the wood, because he wants to marry Hermia. They are followed by Helena, who is hopelessly in love with Demetrius. Oberon, King of the Fairies, argues with Titania, Queen of the Fairies. Oberon gets his fairy servant, Puck, to drip a love potion into Titania s eyes, for a joke. A comic fellow called Bottom is in the forest with some friends, the Mechanicals, who want to rehearse a play. Puck transforms Bottom into a donkey. Bottom wakes the sleeping Fairy Queen, and she falls in love with him. They go to bed together.
14 Puck drips the love potion into Lysander s eyes, who at once falls desperately in love with Helena. Oberon is furious. Puck drips the love potion into Demetrius s eyes, who also falls in love with Helena. Hermia is frantic. Finally Puck drips an antidote into Titania s eyes, so she sees the hideousness of Bottom the donkey. He also drips the antidote into Lysander s eyes, so he immediately returns to his true love, Hermia. The courtiers celebrate a triple wedding, entertained by Bottom and the Mechanicals, who perform a ridiculously overacted tragic play. Questioning- in- role Once the students have been assigned the task of reading King of Shadows, the teacher will want to check that they have done so. Questioning-in-role is a playful and effective method to check that the students are keeping up with their reading. The play has very many characters, so it is possible to assign all class members different characters from the script, and direct them to answer in role. The questions can range from simply checking the students have read the script carefully enough, so those playing boy actors can, for example, identify the roles their characters play in A Midsummer Night s Dream, to interpretative questions to encourage inferring and insightful answers. The teacher may, for example, ask how and when he first understood he had travelled back in time. could ask Shakespeare if he missed him when he (as Shakespeare believes) returned to St Paul s. The mysterious Arby, director of the contemporary A Midsummer Night s Dream, can be questioned as to how much he knew about the time slip (Arby, finally discovers, stands for RB Richard Babbage). Imaging relationships A scene where many thoughts remain unspoken could be chosen to create a frozen thematic representation that is more demanding than a freeze frame. For example, in King of Shadows, the meeting between Queen Elizabeth, Lord Randal, Shakespeare, Burbage,, soldiers and ladies-in-waiting might be chosen. Instead of a representation of the action, the relationships between the characters and their attitudes to each other are interpreted and presented silently, while the audience comments, and suggests improvements. The teacher may tap a student taking part in the still image on the shoulder, at which point the student speaks his thoughts. This is known as Thought Tracking. Role-on-the-wall This activity is a favourite. It is creative and interactive, but nonetheless can allow students a reflective rest from the more boisterous drama processes. Teams of four students create each a large group poster of a chosen character. They select a colour to represent their character, then draw his or her outline,
15 and fill it with information about the character, such as appearance, qualities, idiosyncrasies, thoughts and actions. Using the same colour writing from the perspective of their character they now swap posters in order to annotate the other figures on the outside of the outlines. The students should be encouraged to work carefully, using a dictionary of synonyms to find the right nuances for the annotations. Finally the role posters are attached to the wall, for the annotations on the various characters may be further developed as more insights arise. Conscience alley For this drama activity, a moment is chosen when a character has a momentous decision to make. The students stand opposite each other in two parallel lines. A student representing a character walks between the lines, while the students voice the thoughts and ideas he or she may be considering before coming to a decision. An example from King of Shadows could be s decision whether to return to the Company of Boys the following Globe season, to play Ariel in The Tempest. Will it help him on his road to recovery, or will it just remind him yet again of the two poets he has lost? Will he slip back in time once more? Shakespeare used to call his aerial sprite: Arby Ariel was written for Will Shakespeare s vanished, the boy in his memory. [ ] At the end of The Tempest, Prospero lets Ariel go away, I shall miss thee, he says, But still thou shalt have freedom. Go free, free of grieving. And your two poets will go with you always. (Cooper and Mitchell 2011: 89) I have tried to highlight the fun of Shakespeare in this chapter, suggesting ideas for active teaching to help sustain attention. This approach corresponds to the interactive nature of Elizabethan drama in performance, itself very significant for the language classroom, for [t]he collaborative participation of an audience is an integral component of performance as an interactional accomplishment (Bauman 2005: 420). Using a highly engaging young adult text, King of Shadows, I have outlined how this can be exploited and enjoyed already in the mid-secondary classroom, at a stage when coping with extended passages of Shakespeare s poetry and prose is still beyond the EFL student. References Ang, Susan (2001): Time-slip fantasy. In: Watson, Victor (ed.): The Cambridge Guide to Children s Books in English. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, Anstey, Michèle & Bull, Geoff (2009): Developing new literacies. Responding to picturebooks in multiliterate ways. In: Evans, Janet (ed.): Talking Beyond the Page. Reading and Responding to Picturebooks. London: Routledge, Bauman, Richard (2005): Performance. In: Herman, David/ Jahn, Manfred/Ryan, Marie- Laure (eds): Routledge Encyclopedia of Narrative Theory. Oxford: Routledge,
16 Bland, Janice (2013): Children s Literature and Learner Empowerment. Children and Teenagers in English Language Education. London: Bloomsbury Academic. Byram, Michael/Fleming, Michael (eds) (1998): Language Learning and Intercultural Perspective. Approaches through drama and ethnography. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Cooper, Susan (1999/2009): King of Shadows. New York: Simon & Schuster. Cooper, Susan, adap. Mitchell, Adrian (2011): King of Shadows. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Cron, Lisa (2012): Wired for Story. Berkeley: Ten Speed Press. Crystal, David (1998): Language Play. London: Penguin Books. Crystal, David ( ): The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Dörnyei, Zoltán (2007): Creating a motivating classroom environment. In: Cummins, Jim/Davison, Chris (eds): International Handbook of English Language Teaching. New York: Springer. Vol. 2, Farmer, David (2010): Whoosh! (Accessed ). Goldberg, Moses (1974): Children s Theatre. A philosophy and a method. Eaglewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall. Gurr, Elizabeth ( ): Shakespeare s Globe. London: Shakespeare s Globe. Hollindale, Peter (2001): Drama for children. In: Watson, Victor (ed.): The Cambridge Guide to Children s Books in English. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, Nünning, Ansgar and Surkamp, Carola (2006): Englische Literatur unterrichten 1: Grundlagen und Methoden. Seelze-Velber: Kallmeyer Klett. Pfister, Manfred (1988), The Theory and Analysis of Drama. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Showalter, Elaine (2003), Teaching Literature. Oxford: Blackwell. Stephens, John (2010), Intertextuality, in David Rudd (ed.), The Routledge Companion to Children s Literature. Abingdon: Routledge, pp Stevick, Earl (1980), Teaching Languages: A Way and Ways. Rowley: Newbury House. Volkmann, Laurenz (2008), Drama und Kultur im Englischunterricht in Eva Burwitz- Melzer (ed.), Fremdsprachen Lehren und Lernen. Themenschwerpunkt: Lehren und Lernen mit literarischen Texten. Tübingen: Gunther Narr, pp