Charles Wright Academy seventh graders spend the first full week of March in Ashland on the grade’s annual field trip to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.
Tarriers went to performances of “Twelfth Night” (which they studied in their English class prior to the trip), “The River Bride,” and “Yeoman of the Guard.” They also attended workshops led by professional actors and crew members, learning about the craft both onstage and behind the scenes. “We went to an actor workshop in which we got to chat with one of the main actors from ‘he River Bride,'” says seventh grade English teacher Lydia Roberts. “We also visited workshops on stage makeup and costume design—with a play on Ye Olde Project Runway—and took in a prologue for ‘The River Bride’ and a prologue for ‘Yeoman’ in addition to having a chat with the stage manager from ‘Twelfth Night’ after the show.”
Students relished the opportunity to interact with actors and learn more about their craft. “My favorite part of Ashland was getting to talk to the actors after the plays,” says Sam ’21. “Often when we see actors in movies or TV shows, they’re removed and we think of them more as brands with PR teams than as real people. It was so cool to ask all of the questions we wanted.”
Being able to discuss character traits and development not only with their classmates, but also with the actors whose portrayals inform their understanding left a lasting impression on the Class of 2021. “I loved getting promenade seating to ‘The Yeoman of the Guard,'” Rebecca ’21 says. “The actor who played Phoebe and Krazy Kate was really friendly—she let me and my friend Michelle play her musical saw! My favorite character in ‘The Yeoman of the Guard’ was Shadbolt the Jailor; he was a mean and rude character. ‘The River Bride’ was very fun to watch. My favorite character was Duarte.”
This annual trip allows students and faculty the opportunity to take in live theater and relate it to the text they’ve read in class. “I think it was great that we read the play before seeing it,” Sam says. “For one, you get to appreciate the play more. For example, picking your favorite characters and then getting to see the actors bring those characters to life adds a whole other layer that I had a lot if fun with. Also, it helps big time with understanding.”
To learn more about how this experiential education experience reinforces what seventh graders are learning in English class, please click here to read a blog post by Ms. Roberts. And for photos on the seventh graders’ festivities, please click here.