Spring Thesis Festival – Session 1

Mary Baldwin College’s M.Litt/MFA Spring 2010 Thesis Festival is here, and right out of the starting gate we’ve got Veronica Watts, presenting “Meeting Virginia State 9th grade Language Arts Standards of Learning Through Best Practices Instruction of William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.” Watts explores survey statistics analyzing how Virginia teachers approach teaching the texts of Shakespeare in general, and Romeo and Juliet in particular. She explores issues that educators face, such as administrators who are opposed paying actors to perform in their schools. Watts also explores some approaches to teaching Shakespeare using performative components.

Next we have Justin Schneider presenting “Live Nude Dramaturgy.” Schneider begins by declaring his preference for the question “why a dramaturg” as opposed to “what is a dramaturg.” He compares the use of a dramaturg in a production to visiting Italy with a knowledgeable tour guide as opposed to just a guidebook. He establishes the ethical responsibility of the dramaturg as someone whom, if incorrect, will likely not be noticed as such. For his presentation, Schneider demonstrates the dramaturgical process by having his actors read through a scene and ask him follow up questions.

Concluding our morning session we have Bonnie Morrison presenting “Country Clowns to City Wits: Kempe, Armin, and the Development of Shakespeare’s Fools.” As the title of her thesis predicts, Morrison reviews some of the changes in the development of clowns between when Will Kempe left the Chamberlain’s Men and was replaced by Robert Armin, but her thesis is that both of these men may have been members of the Chamberlain’s Men at the same time. Morrison cites the fact that Kempe referred to himself as one of the Chamberlain’s Men during his nine day’s Morris dance to Norwich. There is no clear evidence to indicate why Kempe left the Chamberlain’s, but the plays in the Worcester’s Men’s repertory seem to be less conducive to his particular clowning style. Hamlet, Morrison points out, has roles for two clowns, the first and second gravediggers, and was written at the time when both men would have been in the Chamberlain’s simultaneously, if in fact they were.

Bringing the morning session to a wrap, we’ll break for the moment and be back a little bit later with some more