NATCHITOCHES – Jack Wann, former artistic director and coordinator of theatre at Northwestern State University, is teaching a three-week workshop on Shakespeare to a select group of upper level theatre students. The workshops are based on Wann’s published “Shakesperience! An Approach to Performing Shakespeare” and are designed to immerse students in the work of Shakespeare, arguably the best English language writer and dramatist.
The students will conclude the workshop with a performance at 3 p.m. Friday, March 21 in Theatre West. In just under an hour, the production comprises 23 plays and 51 characters. Fourteen junior and senior level students who completed Acting I and Acting II classes were selected to participate.
“It’s an intensive look at Shakespeare. The idea is to immerse the students in Shakespeare and make it accessible because it is the best our language has to offer,” Wann said. Works by the English bard are by far the most performed and most great actors “keep sharp by performing Shakespeare,” he added. “This is immersion teaching. The students jump in and it’s like a pianist playing Chopin or an artist studying Rembrandt.”
The students learn the rhythm Shakespeare expressed, which is always in forward motion, Wann said.
“Shakespeare is performed with forward momentum,” Wann said. “Shakespeare wrote in a time when everything was done for the ear. People didn’t read so they talked to each other. All the writing is so the audience would hear everything and know what was going on. There were no lights, no sound effects.”
Wann visits NSU annually to present workshops, with alternate focus from Shakespeare to Ibsen and Chekhov.
Wann retired from Northwestern State in 2003 and was named professor emeritus. He returned to NSU in 2006 to direct a summer dinner theatre production of Kiss Me Kate and teaches acting classes in the spring semester each year. He is writing a book on the teaching of Ibsen and Chekhov. He maintains an active schedule that includes teaching, directing and acting.