April 12, 2016

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Poetry Friday: Oh, the Drama

It's the first Poetry Friday of Autumn. Cool weather, root vegetables, homemade soups and field hockey tournaments are the things I'm happy for this fall.

All you Rhyming Rutabagas -- head over to Amy's Poem Farm for today's poetry post round-up.

Spooky Rutabaga Face looks like
he's ready to spit some poetry.
Do you think he'll show up at this weekend's
Baltimore Book Festival?

Be sure to stop at Heidi Mordhorst's blog, My Juicy Little Universe. Heidi is one of my "tagees" for the Children's Poetry Blog Hop.

What else makes fall a happy time? Knowing that drama season is right around the corner.

My middle schooler is a drama kid, but without all the lights and applause. She prefers melt-into-scenery black clothes and uber-organizing the chaos behind the curtain as stage manager. The first time she got to be on headset with the director? Bliss.

Our middle school won't begin working on the spring musical until December. However, high schoolers around the country are preparing their fall drama productions. (High schools traditionally perform their musicals in spring.)

I just heard from my friend, children's author Naomi Milliner that her HS senior will be taking on Hamlet -- yes, you read that right, HAMLET -- this fall. He and his cast-mates will even get to perform a truncated version of the play at the Folger Shakespeare Library. How cool is that?!

When we studied Hamlet, junior year of high school,
we got to see a production at New York City's Public Theater.
Playing the lead was the divine Kevin Kline.
Sticking with the Shakespearian dramas, today I have a Shakespeare-in-High-School poem by Robert Herschbach. Robert won the 2013 Washington Writers' Publishing House prize for his book Loose Weather

Available at this website.
This poem is appropriate to share with your upper middle school and high school students, especially if they are studying that play.

Scottish Play
by Robert Herschbach

The drama club is rehearsing
the end of kings--bloodied iambs
on teenagers' lips,
lies and seduction.
Fog effects, pink-toned dry ice,
grunt of the queen
as she urges on
the essential deed: a king dies. Twice.
It comes with the job.

Everything the king says
is addressed to the dagger
and poison, ghosts
he births in his spare time
or the weird sisters Brianna,
Marissa and Caitlin
whose riddles he must complete.

The queen's hunger
makes geometry worth it,
the smell of a lunchroom microwave
or old socks in gym class
bearable for her sake,

but the queen grows mad
with consequence
and the slave who must pay
has not even one line
for his trouble.

Thanks to Robert Herschbach for sending me a review copy of Loose Weather. This poem, which first appeared in the journal Gargoyle (#59), is posted with his permission. I think it's a good one for prompting some meta-discussion about what it's like for modern high schoolers to study and perform Shakespeare. 

Note: Parents of Legomaniacs, you will love Robert's series of Lego Mini-Fig poems in Loose Weather.

My kid has taken on the role of the Scottish King twice, at Chesapeake Shakespeare Company's camp.

Stage fighting at Shakespeare camp.
I have seen the play twice. Once in an atmospheric, modernist Broadway version with Christopher Plummer. Here's a clip from the production, with Glenda Jackson opposite Plummer.

More recently, I saw the Chesapeake Shakespeare Company's movable Macbeth. It was spine-tingling to sit at picnic tables with Macbeth and the ghost of Banquo during the banquet scene.

For your drama lovers, I recommend these novels, which revolve around the production of a play. The teens here take on starring roles and behind the scenes drama. If you know of any more drama-themed books, please share.

Surviving the Applewhites, by Stephanie S. Tolan (MG)

The Sweet, Terrible, Glorious Year I Truly, Completely Lost It, by Lisa Shanahan (YA)

I have not read, but would like to include children's poet Betsy Franco's 21 Monologues for Teen Actors.

I wish you all a drama-free weekend. At least, the bad kind of drama. The Shovan gang is going to see Animal Crackers at Baltimore's Center Stage. I'll sign off with a scene from the original.


Tabatha said...

My older daughter was in the Scottish play during the D.C. Shakespeare Theatre Company's summer camp. (Hooray for Shakespeare camp!) And hooray for stage crew members! Thanks for sharing Robert Herschbach's poem and the videos -- you packed a lot of goodness into this post. :-)

Linda B said...

We have the privilege of a wonderful drama director and a stage set manager teaching our students, Laura, and at this middle school level, they have performed some amazing Shakespeare, among other plays. For many it's been an awesome experience. And, aside from the actors, some of my students were enthralled with stage crew, and those headsets. We have felt blessed all these years by these teachers. Thanks for sharing the wonderful poem. I will certainly send it on!

jama said...

Oh the drama! What a great post. Love hearing about students doing Shakespeare. I think I need to visit the Folger again soon. :)

Michelle Heidenrich Barnes said...

Hamlet in High School? I'm impressed! Once of the highlights of my college days was the Shakespeare acting class I took with Morris Carnovsky. Brilliance at its best... his, not mine.

GatheringBooks said...

My theatre geek daughter played the role of Tatiana in her drama class several years back. Macbeth may still be a bit heavygoing for her at age 11. Haha. I love the poetry though about Shakespeare. Surviving the Applewhites remains one of my favourites. There is a sequel, I believe. "Applewhites at Wit's End." Not sure whether there's drama there.

Amy LV said...

I loved being in drama club, Laura. And our eldest just started high school and is very excited to do some backstage work. One of the best productions I've seen at our children's school is of Laura Amy Schlitz's GOOD MASTERS SWEET LADIES. So enchanting. Thank you for the poem and the frog poetry contest, and Happy Poetry Friday! said...

We studies Macbeth byt I will nevr forget watching a friend play Hamlet at my brother's school. What a part that is.

Tara @ A Teaching Life said...

Woah...Hamlet at the Folger, it doesn't get better than that!

Ruth said...

I really like the poem! Such a great juxtaposition between the play and real life.