English Language Development students travel to Shakespeare Theater

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Sharon Asro Faber

The EDL students and trip sponsors are waiting to watch the performance start.

The English Language Development (ELD) theater class traveled to the Shakespeare Theater in Washington, DC on Thursday, December 1 to see Much Ado About Nothing.

ELD classes are designed specifically for people whose primary language is not English. Seven years ago, Sharon Faber founded the ELD theater class.  For many of the students, this was the first time they saw a live performance.

“Enjoying a live, professional play of this caliber is transformational,” Faber said.  “It also helps them feel more confident in tackling Shakespeare in their English curriculum.”

The theater adapted the play into a modern setting. Because the actors were very expressive with their emotions, the audience was able to easily follow the storyline.

“The extraordinary physical comedy, slapstick and live Spanish subtitles made it totally accessible, and made them laugh and feel more confident and good about themselves,” Faber added. “This was the first time I saw some students smile!”

“I had been on one other trip before and this one had just knocked it out of the park. The performance itself was very physical,” ELD teacher Natalia Wright said. Wright was a chaperone on the trip.

The theater hired someone to translate the whole play with Spanish subtitles.

“Faber made sure that happened and that’s a big deal because someone had to translate the whole play,” Media specialist and trip chaperone Ana Mitton said. “It’s really great that Faber has the ELD theater class here and then follows up [with the play].”

The transitions of the sets were seamless. The stage itself would spin around to reveal the next set for the following scenes, wasting no time and allowing the actors and the audience to engage in the next act.

“I couldn’t think of a better introduction to live theater in general [than Shakespeare’s] production of Much Ado About Nothing,” Faber said.  “The students were totally engaged for two and a half hours without a cell phone in sight.” 

This field trip was made possible due to the support of The Shakespeare Theater, Washington, D.C, and Wolf Trap Grants for High School Performing Arts Teachers.

“I can’t thank our supporters enough for making this memorable field trip free of charge, and our administrators and school staff for helping us with the logistics,” Faber added.

From kicking something off the stage or into the audience, to throwing bags of chips to them during celebrations, the actors interacted with the audience, eliciting many reactions.  At some point during the performance, the actors even broke the fourth wall.

Watching the play “helped them de-stress, live fully in the present moment, and feel a sense of connectedness with each other and their new country,” Faber added.

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