English course brings Shakespeare to life

Shakespeare’s words were intended for the stage, and every other year students in “Shakespeare after Shakespeare” bring one of the Bard’s plays to life. Within five weeks of intense engagement with Shakespeare’s language, the class mounts a full-scale production, with students working as actors, set designers, stage managers, costumers, and more.
In 2008, the class staged As You Like It as a Western, directed by award-winning actress, teacher, playwright, and artistic director of the Los Angeles Women’s Shakespeare Company, Lisa Wolpe. Erin Casey, an English and Secondary Education major who played Audrey and Barbara Ann, says the experience helped build close relationships and a greater appreciation of Shakespearian language.

“Our director had us work with the First Folio in order to show us how the words should be spoken,” Casey says. “Sometimes the actors have to add syllables or lengthen the vowel sounds to continue the meter of Shakespeare’s poetry. I’ve been able to apply what I learned from the play to my lesson plans during student teaching.”

Casey adds that the course provided a comfortable way for her to take the stage for the first time, an experience she recommends highly to others.

“Part of the reason I joined was because I’ve always wanted to act, but I’ve been too terrified to get up on stage. The people you work with, along with the English department as a whole, are so supportive. Even if you think you don’t have it in you to act, just try to push yourself to try something new. You won’t regret it!”