Yesterday I started teaching my summer session course, Shakespeare Santa Cruz: Writing in Response to the Bard. I felt some dread as the start date approachedâ€”that my summer would feel as if it were ending early, that the work would be a burden. Now that I’m actually teaching the class, I’m pleased to report that I’m enjoying it every bit as much as last year.
I have seventeen students: about one-third are theatre majors; the remaining two-thirds come from a wide variety of majors and are taking the course because it satisfies UCSC’s upper-division writing requirement. The students attend three of the four plays being produced by Shakespeare Santa Cruz (The Tempest, Much Ado about Nothing, and either The Playboy of the Western World or Endgame). I give them short, non-essay, thinking-writing assignments every night (Explain how you would design the sets and costumes for the first two acts of Tempest. Tell me what you know about yourself as an academic writer. Find an effective theatrical review and explain why you think it works as well as it does.) We cover the life of Shakespeare, see excerpts from as many different film/video versions of each play as possible (today we looked at this, this, this, and this), examine what goes into producing a play, and learn different techniques for writing about the theatre. The students each write and rework three play reviews. They also do group projects that describe the history of the production of one of Shakespeare’s plays and propose a novel production they’d like to see mounted.
Sometimes my job is an absolute blast!
In other news, today marks the start of Dishrag Tag! My team, the Cotton Commandoes, are off and running. Emily Ivey of Yarn Miracle has divided us into teams of ten. Instead of passing a baton, we pass a box with cotton yarn and a knitted dishrag inside, removing and keeping the yarn and dishrag we receive, then knitting a new dishrag and mailing that and different yarn on to another team member. I’m “running” second on my team an expect to receive the box sometime between Friday and Mondayâ€”then I’ll have to drop everything and knit like a madwoman, so I can get that box back in the post and avoid letting my team down. Fun, fun, funâ€”Emily is a genius for thinking this up!