I use theatre to engage with young audiences, in partnership with schools, universities and theatre companies across Canada and beyond. One project was the Shakespeare Drama for Community Development.A primary class was introduced to a Shakespeare play through the teacher’s use of specific literacy and drama-based approaches. The research builds on work conducted by the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC), where scholars are studying what benefits might be gained when young children are introduced to Shakespeare. The RSC study discovered that Shakespeare should be taught early, as children four or five years old are more “fearless” and “they are used to trying out new language.” Like the RSC research findings, the case study suggests that young children are not intimidated by Shakespeare, in fact most of them become highly engaged with the rich and playful language, the stories and the complex characters. This engagement with Shakespeare at an early age exposes students to a worldliness, a cultural literacy (Hirsch et al., 1988) to be built upon throughout their education and lives.Shakespeare’s plays offer a bridge to discover and discuss some of the great questions in life. As the most studied writer and produced playwright in the world, with over 80 languages in which his plays have been translated, this early exposure to Shakespeare allows children to immerse themselves in rich literature and complex ideas at an early age. The research in this case study article explores what pedagogical strategies might be most effective to introduce children to Shakespeare.
Schools, universities, theatre companies across Canada.
Belliveau, G. (2014). Stepping into drama: A midsummer night’s dream in the elementary classroom. Vancouver, BC: Pacific Educational Press. http://pacificedpress.ca/?p=3884
Belliveau, G. (2012). Shakespeare and literacy: A case study in a primary classroom. Journal of Social Sciences, 8(2), 170-177.
Belliveau, G. (2009). Elementary students and Shakespeare: Inspiring community and learning.International Journal of the Arts in Society, 4(2), 1-8.
Belliveau, G. (In Press). Using drama to build community in Canadian schools. In A. Sinner & D. Conrad (Eds.), Creating Together: An Interdisciplinary Workshop of Participatory, Community-based and Collaborative Arts Practices and Scholarship. Wilfred Laurier Press.
MacKenzie, D., Belliveau, G., Beck, J., Lea, G.W. & Wager, A. (2011). Naming the Shadows: Theatre as research. Canadian Journal of Practice-based Research, 3(1): 40 pages. http://cjprt.uwinnipeg.ca/index.php/cjprt/article/viewFile/29/18