Looking for Shakespeare? – Try ‘Looking for Shakespeare’ with Andre Martin

By Ellie S. and Charlotte F.

IEA’s Academy program provides young gifted students with challenging enrichment classes that focus on exploration and the application of knowledge. This fall’s Academy session offers a variety of courses, including the new class Looking for Shakespeare, taught by Independent Shakespeare Company actor Andre Martin.

Ellie and Charlotte are 11-year-old Academy students who attended Looking for Shakespeare, an event held by IEA in collaboration with the Independent Shakespeare Company. This is a post Ellie and Charlotte wrote about their experience at this event.

Ellie and Charlotte discuss Shakespeare with actor and Academy instructor Andre Martin

Ellie and Charlotte discuss Shakespeare with Independent Shakespeare Company actor and IEA Academy instructor Andre Martin

A friend of ours involved with IEA invited Charlotte and me, Academy veterans, to a taster for one of IEA’s new fall classes, Looking for Shakespeare. That friend was Louise Hindle, Academy’s new Program Coordinator. The taster was an invite to attend the play As You Like It performed by the Independent Shakespeare Company (or ISC) at Griffith Park last Thursday evening. In addition, as students of Academy, we were able to take a private tour of the backstage area with ISC actor and teacher of the new class, Andre Martin. This was a special treat. After we took the tour, we did a few fun activities with Andre to give us an even better idea of what the class might be like. Andre was very enthusiastic about teaching us, and we all loved learning from him.

The backstage tour was one of the most enjoyable parts of the evening, especially since Charlotte and I share a love of performing Shakespearean scenes. Before the play began, Andre led us all onto the stage and then took us behind the scenes and downstairs to the backstage area, where we could see the actors getting ready, putting on make-up and preparing their costumes. Andre explained some of the plot and introduced the characters from the play. We were lucky enough to meet some of the actors, including the man who played both the evil and benevolent Duke in the production as well as the actor who played Orlando, one of the lovers.

Andre gives Academy students an exclusive backstage tour

Andre gives Academy students an exclusive backstage tour

Following Andre, we left the stage and gathered on the grass for Andre to lead us in an acting game. “Imagine how a kind Duke would walk,” Andre told us. Charlotte, the other students and I walked in circles around Andre, imagining ourselves as a charitable person in authority. “Good,” Andre said. “Now how do you think a lover would walk?” A few of us wandered aimlessly, donning a dreamlike expression, and he laughed. I was beginning to wish my schedule would permit me to take this class…

Andre also led the students in acting games that included walking like different characters

Andre also leads the students in acting games that include walking like different characters

Leading us back to our seats, Andre encouraged us to pay careful attention during the play and kindly offered to answer questions or confer with him during intermission. As Charlotte and I took our seats and waited for the play to begin, we started to chat about our activities with Andre. We both agreed that Andre’s class would be an amazing and informative class to take. We also conversed about some of the things we had already learned with Andre. He had explained to us the plot of the play and quizzed us on the characters. We also got to hear his insights and opinions on certain parts of the play, such as the famous “Seven Ages of Man” speech and the fascinating character, Touchstone. We both took pleasure in hearing and learning about all of these things. Andre was very fun and energetic while he taught and was excited when we expressed our love for and experience with Shakespeare.

Once the play started, we were immediately pulled into its plot. The skilled actors captured our attention with their life-like portrayal of emotions and character traits. Soon, we noticed the different styles of the costumes used to represent the differing groups in the play. The courtiers dressed in elegant, fancy dresses and suits, while the forest exiles were dressed in more practical clothing for their setting. Also, the characters traveling into the forest wore clothes they thought would be suitable but were not and so they had to change identity.

Both Charlotte and I appreciated the depth of the production. When it was over, we thanked Louise and Andre for inviting us to the inspiring performance. Any kid taking Andre’s class in the Fall will surely enjoy it, we thought. As for this special taster event: now that night was one we would never forget.

Interested in Academy classes for gifted Kindergarten – 8th graders? The fall session starts September 21. Sign up today!

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