All the World’s a Stage: Touring Shakespeare to Schools

Powerpoint Presentation: Shakespeare in the Schools

All the World’s a Stage:  Touring Shakespeare to Schools

Dr. Bobbi McKean (Education consultant for Montana Shakespeare in Parks and Schools) and Susan Miller (Managing Director)


Shakespeare in schools program is 20 years old.

Watched video of tour program including many student responses regarding loving the text.

Tour over 50 schools in several states including Montana, Wyoming, Iowa, and Idaho


Montana Shakespeare in Schools

Founded in 1993

Started to help fund other programming.


Now tours spend 10 weeks on the road- SundayThursday touring, the rest of the week Actor/Teachers live in provided housing.  No more than 2 hours travel per day. New school every day.


Used to be 2 person tours.  They offered scenes from Shakespeare with a frame story.

1995 They got 2 tours.  But children enjoyed the frame story more than Shakespeare’s text.

1997 Tour hiatus.  Chicago Shakespeare theatre education director suggested doing the plays.

1998 Tour reborn with a new model.  6 person tour.  80 minute plays.  Actor/Teachers offer workshops with their expertise.

2004 NEA Shakespeare in Communities offers their support.  8 member casts.  Budget increase.  Able to hire Dr. McKean.


Theatrically Educational Day

The whole day is theatrical and educational with the students from the moment the Actor/Teachers arrive.

Load-in/Set Up


Lunch (frequently with students)




During the rehearsal period before the tour begins, Actor/Teachers receive 2 hours per day of teacher training to prepare for running workshops.


Actor/Teachers submitting for consideration provide both acting and teaching resumes.

Tours now are 8 people (usually 5 men, 3 women).  Looking for open-hearted, good people.  Casting tries to make sure people will get along.


Professional Development

Workshop Structures:

Stage Combat- always related to plays for context

Language- focusing on language of the play


Relevance- ex. Exercises about gossip for Othello, mock trial for Much Ado, bullying of Malvolio in 12thNight



Making sure there is enough time to have closure in relevance workshop

Managing time to allow crash course in improv, so that students are capable of engaging in relevance workshop activities


Sometimes they offer Master Class workshop in which Actor/Teachers to help direct projects the students are doing.


Rehearsal Room Pedagogy

Embodied learning

Students treat Shakespeare text as if it’s a living text.


The company is trying to bring educational work into the rehearsal process.



Preparation and Ownership of teaching artists:  trying to keep the curriculum flexible enough for artists to feel ownership.

Working with diverse groups

Classroom Management

Classroom Teacher Involvement- invite teachers to participate.


Generally 2 Actor/Teachers per classroom.


Company provides lesson plans for teachers after the tour leaves.


Reflective Practice-Praxis



Oral and Written

Peer to Peer Coaching


Tours have no SM or Tech, all done by Actor/Teachers

One Actor/Teacher serves as tour manager


Active Reflection Encouraged

How/Why did you become an actor?

Why Shakespeare?

Why are you an Actor/Teacher?

What is your superpower?  (Ex.  Enthusiasm, warmth, inclusion, etc.  Self-assessed as well as peer assessed)


Reflective Process Language

I notice…

I wonder…

Successes and Challenges…


Personal Reflections

Verbal and 1 written reflection per week


Closing Conversation Reflective Questions

Teachers successful when they’re clear on learning objectives


Try to hire at least half actors who have done the tour before.


Encourage Actor/Teachers to give peer feedback


Evidence of Impact

Teacher and Student Surveys

Actor/Teacher reflection surveys

School Participation over time


Used Survey Monkey for surveys.  Email and follow-up email to ensure response.


Actor/Teacher Highlights

Individual Conversations

Making Connections


Only have room for 4-6 new schools per year.  2012 tour reached 25% of students in schools in Montana.


Montana PBS and Beyond!  Montana PBS shot 4 workshops and clips from a tour production.  Linked to Shakespeare Uncovered.



Performances sometimes combine grade levels.

Sometimes going to school boards is more productive getting tours into schools than going directly to teachers or principals.

School tours reach many towns that the stage tour cannot reach.

Tour gives the school their space requirements.

Productions are not amplified.

Elementary school tour has 3 people.  Combat, language, movement workshops.

High school tour they ask schools to limit workshops to 30 students.  The school chooses which students attend.

Teachers receive a study guide.

Cost to schools $800.  This covers approx. 25% of tour costs, the rest is covered by grants, individual donations and foundations.

All actors are non-union.

Tour runs Oct- just before holidays.  13 week contract, 10 weeks on tour

Programs break even.

Program attached to Montana State University.


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