I spent two hours this afternoon taking photographs of "Bill's Buddies," the Folger Shakespeare Theater's educational acting troupe, as they entertained and taught the eight graders today at school. This four-person group performed excerpts from several plays, stopping often to make educational points to the audience. They then conducted a "workshop" where they got the kids up on the stage to act out and illustrate various points about how Shakespeare wrote. The acting was wonderful and the teaching was very interactive and fun.
The kids were really into it, although they started to fall apart during the balcony scene from Romeo and Juliet. The actors began it without any body movements, simply speaking their lines, and everyone agreed that wasn't very exciting. So they talked with the audience about what movements should be added and at what points.
As it became clear that a kiss might be involved and that these actors might actually kiss-- right in front of all of us!-- these fourteen-year-old students could hard restrain from giggling and groaning in anticipation. I thought their reactions were pretty funny to watch, but then I remember I was a staff member and on the job, so I quietly reminded one particularly embarrassed group of boys that they were grown up enough to handle this. And they were. The actors did the whole scene with body movements, the kids watched intently, and when the big kiss came, there was silence and then applause.