Hamlet Then and Now

I love when I get the chance to see how much I’ve learned over time.

Freshman year of high school I read Hamlet for English class. In fact, part of how I ended up blogging was due to the fact that our homework for this class included creating a blog to post about scenes in Hamlet.

Now five years later, my coursework for my college English class is again to read Hamlet. It’s crazy to think it’s been five years already… In that time I also performed a fifteen-minute version of Hamlet for a one-act play competition and have read and seen much more Shakespeare in general. Needless to say, I’m much more confident in my reading comprehension in terms of Shakespeare. I also didn’t realize until this class just how much experience I’ve had with interpreting Shakespeare between reading, performing, and spectating shows over the years compared to most students. There are around nine shows I consider myself fairly familiar to extremely familiar with, which is still only a handful of his works, but most of my class only knows one or so shows and only kind of sort of at that.

I’ve only read Act 1 of Hamlet so far this time around but it’s kind of cool to get to reread something you read so long ago and notice how much easier it is to interpret what is going on. I also extremely enjoyed rereading my blog posts about Act 1 from my original blog. Honestly, I surprised myself by actually being intrigued by some of my thoughts as a freshman reading Hamlet; though I also did a great deal of laughing especially with how in these old posts I didn’t specify prompts, thus some of the posts when I speak as if I’m a character in the play sound quite odd in context.

I’m excited to continue reading and reflecting on Hamlet and my old blog posts about Hamlet because it’s really cool to literally be able to see change over time as I also have to post in my current class’ online forum. I so often find myself grateful for the Hamlet blogging assignment I was given so many years ago. A blog truly is a great way to capture and share learning progress.

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Asynchronous Class

I had no classes today which was kind of great. Usually, I have one class, which is my English class, but today we had an “asynchronous class” instead. Basically, this is a fancy way of saying, instead of going to a specific room for an hour and ten minutes of “class” we just had an assignment posted (it wasn’t like a live video lecture or anything, just a normal homework assignment on the shorter side) that we need to have finished by midnight tomorrow.

I find the name “asynchronous class” a bit superfluous, but I very much appreciate the concept. Our professor when looking at her schedule for the semester knew that this was going to be a big week for us with three chapters of Shakespear reading, watching our next Disney movie, and finishing our first paper by Friday; therefore, she scheduled this asynchronous class as a way for us to be able to take ownership of managing our time. We could get our work done where ever and whenever we wanted to today. It was great!

Because of this schedule, it allowed me much more flexibility today and I didn’t have to waste time moving to and from a classroom, which was especially nice since I have a psych test I’ve also been studying for today. I’m glad that we have at least one other asynchronous class baked into the semester schedule because I’m sure it will also be at a much needed time. I applaud my professor for her forward thinking and teaching philosophy behind this.

I think more teachers should adopt the concept of an asynchronous class every now and then. It’s a good way to build student ownership into the class work when there is a busy week happening.

In On the Joke

I once had an English teacher who told my class on the very first day, “The real reason that we read, and especially the reason we read old literature, is really just so that we can feel smart when we understand references at a cocktail party or other conversations.”

At first, we were all shocked that our English teacher wasn’t trying to give us some long speech about how brilliant old writers were and how we need to read them to understand our history and how it affects our future, yatta yatta, etcetera etcetera. After a moment though, and especially now that I look back on this statement, I have come to realize just how true it is. The best part of reading is feeling “in on the joke” when some obscure reference is made. And I noticed this especially true in terms of me spending time taking Latin as my foreign language.

Let’s be real, we all know few people in the world even speak Latin at this point, but the reason I took it is because it’s all about stories. All the myths and histories wrapped up and mixed into one. When we were in class we would be translating actual novels and texts from ancient times that get referenced all the time in modern literature. I find myself being more appreciative of this middle school decision of mine all the time.

Tonight was a great example of feeling “in on the joke” when I saw the new musical “Head Over Heels.” I’m having a hard time finding the right words to describe the show, so I think I’m just going to use the description provided online. (Which was all I knew about the show going into it because it’s still in previews, therefore, no reporters can comment yet.) :

“An inspired mash-up of posh and punk, Head Over Heels is an Elizabethan romp about a royal family that must prevent an oracle’s prophecy of doom. 

To save their kingdom, the family embarks on a journey where they are faced with mistaken identities, love triangles, sexual awakening and self-discovery.

Set to the iconic pop music of The Go-Go’sHead Over Heels delivers an experience unlike anything you’ve ever seen.” – tdf description 

The show was hilarious in itself, but I feel like I was really able to appreciate it that much more because I felt “in the know” when it came to certain references due to my background taking Latin. Now while I know I was never all that great at Latin, I did stick with it all through middle and high school and thus was quite amused with myself this evening for being able to pick up on the references in the show made to ancient works/general themes you just find funny for some reason after talking about them for years.

I just love witty writing and this show had a ton of that on top of the twists turns and dramatic gestures that come along with giving an ode to the olden times.

This whole post was a lot more fluent in my head while still at the theater, but I suppose everything is as it should be because I clearly saw a good show based on how my mind is now blown and dead with thoughts and challenges spirally around inside not knowing how to manifest themselves into coherency just yet.

Celebrating the Bard

IMG_5446.JPGHow did you spend the 400th birth/death day of the great bard William Shakespeare?

Well I, along with many other members of the mvps community, spent it supporting our upper school theater director Clark Taylor at his opening night for the show Equivocation. If you live anywhere near Atlanta, I highly recommend going out to see this show at the Shakespeare Tavern!

This show reminds you to stay true to yourself and speak up for your beliefs, because the “truth” is a sticky matter, but just because you can’t answer a simple “yes” or “no” doesn’t mean you should stay silent; staying silent means justice will never be served.

Anytime you say something publicly, you’re stating your opinion, which can be a dangerous thing to do. People will judge you based on your opinion there is no question about that. But there is the question, “How do you wish for the public to perceive you?” How do you say what needs to be said in a corrupt situation without condemning yourself to punishment by the powers in control? In the case of Shakespeare, this means you must master the technique of equivocating by employing rhetorical strategies like wit and dramatic irony in order to, “answer the question they’re really asking.” No question or answer is simple, and the surface question is often covering the underlying question which gets at the meaning as to why the question was asked.

The example Equivocation used to explain this concept was the following: imagine your country is taken over by another country, say Spain for example. You are an honest man and your king, who you support devotedly, is hiding in your house. When a Spanish solider knocks on your door asking if the king is in your house how do you answer? Do you say no because you are protecting your king? That would be lying which supposedly honorable men do not do. However, if you say yes then you betray your king. So how do you answer the question? Well, the trick is to think about what is really being asked. The true question the Spanish soldiers are asking is, “Can we kill your guest?” Which the honorable man, who does not want to support the continuation of murder, would answer, “no,” which also protects the king.

Well written words will always be a powerful weapon of persuasion, which is why a writers’ play must be carefully crafted to make sure an audience hears the story the company wants them to receive. Equivocation had great writing, great messages, great directing, and a fantastic group of actors to deliver the story; our theater banquet and then seeing this show was the perfect end to my theater season for the 2015-2016 school year!

Thought I’m not ready to say good bye to our seniors, I can’t wait for next year’s line up! (Eurydice, Much Ado About Nothing, a night of improv, and The Adams Family the Musical!)

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Present and Available

I have not blogged in the last 2 days. This has deeply hurt me inside, but there is a method to my madness. I have become aware that sometimes blogging has pulled me away from the present. It has happened before with family and friends, and I am ready to stop.

This past weekend I spent with some of my 8 closest friends at the lake. Friday night I did blog, but it pulled me away from the game we were playing at the time and I didn’t enjoy that. While telling my story, I was missing another, so I decided to not blog for the rest of the weekend so that I could enjoy my time with them more fully.

Usually I would spend this time today recapping about what happened, but really we all just hung out. I have come to the realization that the present is by far the best time to live in. Priorities say a lot about a person, and while blogging is high up on my list, I don’t want to miss moments with people I care about in the process.

In drama we say that while on stage you need to be present and available so that other actors can work off of you, and so that the audience can better focus on the more important actions at the time in order to understand and appreciate the story. To this I quote William Shakespeare’s play As You Like It Act 2, Scene 7:

         All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages.

I have technically finished my 100 day blogging challenge, and while I will still try to blog everyday, I think it is time for me to become less hard on myself for missing a day so that I can be present and available to the world a little more. Rather than my challenge being to blog every day, my new challenge is to blog in the moments that seem fit; if that is everyday, then so be it, if I miss a day now and then, then I hope I was actively available in that moment for others.

And that was my insight of the weekend.