New! Performance-based lesson plans
Takes on Shakes is a bold new video series exploring iconic scenes from Shakespeare. It's designed to help educators with distance learning. The series challenges assumptions about Shakespeare performance and interpretation. These on-demand, performance-based video lessons illuminate Shakespeare's work in exciting ways that encourage students to think critically and come to their own conclusions. Our young and diverse team of actors, directors, and teaching artists bring their personal perspectives to each episode, and empower kids with the idea that there's no "right way" to perform or appreciate Shakespeare.
Each 30-minute episode offers fresh, often unexpected TAKES on famous scenes that interrogate complex, thorny, and sometimes controversial topics in Shakespeare’s canon. In between takes, actors and directors explain how creative decisions can have profound effects on how audiences perceive and interpret the play. Included with each episode are curriculum materials that provide educators with detailed content relating to the themes and language of the featured play, as well as discussion questions and activities to enhance student engagement.
The first episode, directed by Chris Steele, imagines the balcony scene from Romeo and Juliet as we assume it should be played, followed by TAKES based on gender norms in the 16th, 19th, and 21st centuries. The second episode, directed by Akaina Ghosh, explores the issues of consent and personal agency in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, addressing how directors' and actors' choices can affect how we experience the comedy in the play.
Our performance-based approach stresses critical thinking and personal interpretation - the best way for students to understand and relate to Shakespeare’s complex language and storytelling. This series urges students to develop their own TAKE on Shakespeare's work. Each Takes on Shakes episode includes an integrated curriculum with study and discussion questions as well as worksheets encouraging students to dig deeper into Shakespeare’s complex characterization, plots, and language. For a more in-depth LIVE experience, we recommend pairing them with our Virtual Playshops , hour-long live interactive online classes taught by the actors and directors featured in the series.