Revisiting the First Folio: The Undergraduate Experience with Shakespeare

Jonathan the Husky poses wearing an Elizabethan collar on stage at the Harriet S. Jorgensen Theater. (Peter Morenus/UConn Photo)

During the Fall 2016 semester, with the support of a micro-grant from the Folger Institute to promote the teaching of Shakespeare to undergraduates, the “Experiencing Shakespeare” course gave students the opportunity to experience Shakespeare as an enduring cultural force through innovative material and digital modes of inquiry. Students explored Shakespeare’s comedies, tragedies, and histories through workshops/seminars on Printmaking, Puppetry, Original Pronunciation, the Astor Place Riots, in addition to attending film screenings and a production of King Lear at Connecticut Repertory Theatre. Two of these experiences/workshops were filmed (by DMD student, Henry Stein) and can be viewed below.

The Printmaking Workshop

Assignment: As part of a two-day workshop, students generated 100-150 word summaries of Hamlet using only select verses from the play. Much like Heminge and Condell who compiled the definitive editions of each play for the First Folio, students had to determine what verses were “essential” to tell the story. These textual summaries were then converted to the First Folio typeset, transferred to a digital polymer (using our new 3D printer), and inked on the university’s antique presses to create individualized booklets.

Toy Puppetry Workshop

Assignment: As part of a three-day workshop, students created a 10-minute toy puppetry version of King Lear. Having watched Connecticut Repertory Theatre’s production of King Lear, students were challenged to condense the play, while maintaining its essential dramatic structure. Students also gathered images from the Folger’s Digital Image Collection and used these to create puppets of the characters as well as decorations for the toy proscenium theatre.