Good afternoon! Lauren Romagnano again and today’s lunch and learn is focused on the partnerships and relationships between Shakespeare theatres and local educational institutions. We will be hearing from Ralph Cohen of both the American Shakespeare Center and Mary Baldwin’s Shakespeare and Performance Program, Paul Menzer also from Mary Baldwin’s Shakespeare and Performance Program, Hailey Bachrach representing the partnership between King’s College and the Globe Theatre, Erica Whyman of the Royal Shakespeare Company, Michael Dobson of the Shakespeare Institute, and Chelsea Phillips from Villanova University, but also an alumna of Mary Baldwin’s program and the partnership between Ohio State University and the Royal Shakespeare Company.
We begin with each partnership speaking about the balances and benefits of each program. Dobson and Whyman begin by discussing the summer school program between the RSC and the Shakespeare Institute, which includes seeing performances, lectures about the plays, and the development of the educative creativity from the RSC actors becoming teachers to these students. They remark this program sponsored the combination of practical work and research for both students and actors, ultimately bringing scholars on the stage. For both organizations, it assisted the discovery of finding new ways to address inquiries related to Shakespeare.
Cohen next speaks on his role within the collaboration between the ASC and Mary Baldwin. He finds that this development came out of a desire to work arm in arm together towards a common goal. This development was a process of learning the balance of actor’s time as well as the benefits of bringing actors into the classroom to share their experiences to students. Cohen notes that this conference is the ultimate example of this partnership when one notices the students always attentive, always listening, and always soaking in the information offered by the scholars on this stage.
Bachrach speaks next about her experience as a student working between King’s College and the Globe. She notes that the Globe appears to have always been a scholarly theatre, but this partnership blends the institutions in a way to benefit both parties. She sees the blending combination of performance and research, especially in times when faculty members are from the Globe and teaching students from an entirely different background than those from King’s College.
The stage is next turned over to Phillips, someone who can speak on the experience of being educated by not one, but two different Shakespeare partnerships. She notes that the partnership in Staunton informed her own thoughts and choices when she moved to Ohio because of the strength between the two programs. Having the opportunity to work with both actors and educators, and even actor-educators, Phillips was able to take the variety of information into her own classes at Villanova, where she continues to stress the importance of performance and research as a singular unit and not two separate entities.
The panel unanimously agrees that the access to spaces is one of the things that makes these partnerships lasting experiences. Whyman remarks of the RSC/Shakespeare Institute partnership that some of the key components are equal time spent in the space, the relevance and resonance of working together in the space, and using this space encourages an alignment of mission statements. Cohen adds on that the slight differences between mission statements, as rare as it can be for a graduate program to have a mission statement, can be at odds at times, but ultimately keeps him honest with his students considering his roles between the two.
Menzer turns to open the conversation to audience members to either share their experiences within these programs or to ask questions about the partnerships. Several student alumni speak, from all different partnerships, to share how these collaborations both taught them the importance of growth and the importance of the access achievable only through organizations such as these. Many speak about the growth of both parties, actors and educators, taking on these new roles and working through these new facets and how this sponsors new ideas and development all around. These connections even sponsor not only trust between the groups, but also friendship as people learn to work in their new capacities and roles. Ultimately, what the panel members hope audience members can take away from this session is that these partnerships open doors for actors, educators, students, and even community members in developing and growing through research, performance, and love of Shakespeare.