Every summer students of the Department of Dramatic Arts (DART) attend the annual Stratford Shakespeare Academy for a three week intensive two-course experience. The courses present an opportunity to study Shakespeare through the lenses of both performance and structured analytical criticism with some of Ontario’s leading university professors and Stratford professional coaches. During the typical 7.5 hour day students observe and enquire of the talent of working actors, trainers and directors while experiencing first-hand the programming of one of Canada’s most triumphant theatre Festivals.
Josh Davidson, a fourth year performing arts student at DART, describes this opportunity as “…an experience unlike any other. During my traditional school experience, I never had the opportunity to embody Shakespeare, or any stylized theatrical form, quite like this course offered. My fellow students and I are always asked to focus on a multiplicity of various forms, in relationship to different classes during the school year. The Stratford Shakespeare Academy offers you the opportunity to study Shakespeare, and only Shakespeare, for a three week period. The benefit of this intensive class structure was invaluable.”
The course encouraged students to formulate opinions and discussions in response to the four Shakespearean plays presented during the 2011 Stratford season. Davidson says “having the ability to witness professional Shakespeare productions, while in the midst of studying Shakespeare, was helpful and inspirational.” Acting students train to develop a personal artistic palette, molded and shaped with specific skill sets, knowledge and vocabulary. He continues, “Observing Shakespearean acting professionals “live” allowed me to reflect upon what my artistic palette already consists of and helped identify the areas needing more time and improvement.”
Complementing the coursework is the opportunity for theatre students from the sponsoring universities – Guelph, Windsor, Queens and Waterloo – to meet and share their learning experiences. Josh asserts “the other side of this adventure was found in the social environment. We were able to share experiences, class work, opinions, and beliefs with other students who have been trained in different forms, theories and techniques from our own. This made for some great art-talk! I brought what Brock had to offer, and they brought what their own school offered. This intermingling between schools sparked new friendships, new artistic discoveries and made the course experience very rewarding as a student and actor.”
Josh concluded, “I would encourage any high-school student with performance interests to attend Brock University for these types of remarkable course experiences. The benefit of this intensive class structure is invaluable… I don’t think anyone could walk away from this experience without finding something to enrich their studies, while also helping to form the work they create in the future.”
In September these fourth year students return to DART, fresh with the legacy of these formative course experiences. Working together with their newly tuned artistic palettes, they will create provocative and innovative theatrical performance for the Brock community.
Students interested in more information about the Stratford Shakespeare Academy should contact the Department at firstname.lastname@example.org