‘Preludes and Prologues:’ A glimpse into Shakespeare in the Schools

Shakespeare in the Parks, which recently concluded its 45th season, has been a familiar name during the summer months in Bozeman. It is not uncommon to see crowds gathered under the trees of the duck pond on a summer night, and it’s also not unusual to be drawn to observe the quickly constructed stages and the bold proclamations of the actors who walk across them. What many may not know is what the actors and directors do when they aren’t performing for the crowds that pack onto the hills of MSU. The troupe that presents Shakespeare in the Parks is also actively engaged in educating children about Shakespeare’s plays through a program known as Shakespeare in the Schools.

On Sunday, Sept. 24 the Executive Artistic Director Kevin Asselin led a presentation on Shakespeare in the Schools as a part of the first official Preludes and Prologues, a speech series produced by Wonderlust. Preludes and Prologues exists to “provide an appetizer of an upcoming event in Bozeman.” Asselin spoke primarily about Shakespeare in the Schools ability to bring the experience of live theater and the writing of Shakespeare into an elementary school environment. The goal of Shakespeare in the Schools “is to look at ways which you can engage kids in the classroom, related to the kind of material we’re offering on stage,” Asselin said. After he had finished a brief introduction, Asselin called first on Gretchen Minton, a Shakespearean scholar and professor, and then on Marti Lyons, who is working as a guest conductor with the production to shed some light on the troupes’ current show.

After a short lesson on the historical places and events that inspired the production’s current play “Twelfth Night,” Lyons gave a presentation on the creative process behind adapting a play for an elementary-aged audience. This was followed by a scene that was performed by three of the actors. This brought the first official Preludes and Prologues to a close. The presentation was followed by a Q&A with the staff and actors.

For more information regarding Shakespeare in the Parks go to shakespeareintheparks.org and for upcoming events by Wonderlust go to montana.edu/wonderlust.