Out of the Classroom and Into the Theatre to Study Shakespeare
As an undergraduate student it didn't take Goran Stanivukovic long to develop a passion for the works of William Shakespeare. That was when he discovered “the tip of the iceberg which is Shakespeare’s fascinating and elusive language.” He also discovered that "passions and love seemed much better in Shakespeare than in real life, especially that of a young undergraduate, and politics and history that had a particularly sharp edge."
Today he teaches Shakespeare in the English Department at Saint Mary’s, and his fondness of Shakespeare grows deeper as he shares his passion with students.
“At school, history was taught to us as a series of facts, names, battles, and changed borders. But in Shakespeare it is narrative, rhetoric, and manipulation with feelings and people, which I thought was closer to the reality that I was seeing around me.” He learned through Shakespeare to look at life in a “different light.”
For the past two years, Stanivukovic, fellow professor Dr. Janet Hill and a small contingent of students have made the trek to England to immerse themselves in Shakespeare’s world and works first hand. The idea for this special course on Shakespeare was Stanivukovic’s. While a postgraduate student at The Shakespeare Institute in Stratford-upon-Avon, he learned that short courses in Shakespeare and theatre were being offered, and he had a chance to chat with students from the United States and Europe who were taking them.
He discovered from them, as well as his own experience talking to cast members, that the “experience of drama acquired a different, richer and livelier, perspective. Shakespeare and his contemporaries wrote plays for theatre, not for reading at desks in a classroom. Actors, through talking about how they understand and perform the roles, and the stage on which the printed page came to life, both clarified and deepened the meaning of the plays.”
He decided that if one day he held an academic position, he would like to give his students the chance to experience what happens to the text of the plays when the stage gives it life.
English 401, offered in some summer sessions by Saint Mary’s, involves a week plus in the classroom of intensive study of Shakespeare’s and his contemporaries’ plays. This is followed by a week in Stratford-upon-Avon at the Shakespeare Centre and The Royal Shakespeare Company, and upon returning to Halifax, assignments and discussions based on these experiences.
“Personally, when in England, I gladly change my teacher’s hat for a student’s hat,” says Stanivukovic. “The course has taught me how to approach my own teaching of drama in different and better ways and how to love drama even more.”
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