It’s been a while since I wrote about the British Shakespeare Association, and in particular its Education Network. Membership of the Association usually drops a bit between the organisation’s biennial conferences (the 2016 conference will be at the University of Hull). But the organisation continues to be active, and I’ve recently been catching up on the very varied posts to the Education Network blog in the extremely capable hands of Dr Sarah Olive of the University of York. The following refer to just some of the recent blog posts that have appeared on the site.
A series of short reviews of books on the subject of Shakespeare in education have appeared. Teaching Shakespeare, particularly in school, is found particularly challenging, so it’s a great idea to suggest how useful books might be for those who have to deliver it. So the blog includes a review of Adrian Noble’s book How to do Shakespeare, a very brief one on Liam Semler’s book on Teaching Shakespeare and Marlowe, and another by Ken Ludwig on How to Teach your Children Shakespeare aimed at parents and those who teach small groups.
There’s a discussion of Lyn Gardner’s Guardian article unfavourably comparing the RSC’s provision aimed at younger audiences with that of Sadler’s Wells, raising questions about what sort of educational offerings theatres should be making to audiences of the future.
There’s news of a workshop being held at the University of York on Saturday 27 June, on the teaching of two plays popular in schools, Romeo and Juliet and Macbeth. It will look at human rights issues raised by the plays and offer some active approaches to teaching the plays. The workshop is free to members of the British Shakespeare Association and just £5 for others.
It feels a long way ahead, but there has been a call for papers for a conference being held in April 2016 at the University of Brighton. RSC Education and the Cambridge Schools Shakespeare will be taking part and the subjects under discussion are wide-ranging. Abstracts for consideration have to be submitted by the second week of July 2015.
Finally for those of you interested in the live relays of theatre performances one of the blogs is a report of the discussion on the subject by RSC Chief Gregory Doran and John Wyver. This was part of the conference that marked the conclusion of the AHRC-funded research project “Screen Plays: Theatre Plays on British Television”, held in London during February 2015. It’s a very full account written by Dr Sarah Olive who is in overall charge of the BSA Education Blog, and the post itself includes additional links.
All of the above posts have been posted within the last few months and show off the range of the BSA Education Network’s interests. For the rest of the 2014-5 academic year (not long now) membership of the BSA is free for primary and secondary teachers. Although aimed at teachers the Education Network blog contains lots of material that anyone with an interest in Shakespeare would enjoy, and is freely available for anyone to access. It’s a great resource and I’d recommend signing up for it to pop into your email inbox.