Stratford-upon-Avon, 24/09-29/09/2017

The second CultureShake learning activity at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust in Stratford took place from the 25/09/2017 to the 29/09/2017.


The aim of this learning activity was to continue working on the project’s products at authentic locations in Stratford such as Shakespeare’s house of birth or the archives containing his collected works. The participants worked together with academic experts, actors and a theatre pedagogue on their research questions. These were previously established in the preparation phase. Whereas A Midsummer Night’s Dream was the focus of learning activity C1, which took place in Singen, learning activity C2 concentrated on Shakespeare’s The Tempest. Flight, exile and life in a strange country were the central topics of this piece.

Project objectives within the learning activity

  • bridging theory and practise in the area of culture-sensitive teaching
  • developing and fostering digital competences
  • promoting language competences
  • promoting multilingualism
  • developing a European dimension in education through a focussing on multilingualism
  • transnational and trans-disciplinary didactical cooperation
  • supporting mobility for teachers and learners
  • intensifying CultureShake’s newly initiated Erasmus mobility for students of the University of Education Karlsruhe at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust in Stratford

Content concept

The content concept follows the description of the learning activity C1 in Singen.
The learning activity C2 in Stratford, by using digital learning and teaching forms, supports the fundamental idea that learners who have a background as refugees and take part in the project should not be seen as an exception. Refugees without permission to travel were able to take part in the workshops through live streaming. To also not let this appear as a special arrangement, the livestreams were made accessible not just to the refugees taking part in the project, but to the entire school community. Even learners who have moved to other continents with their families can continue working on the project through digital platforms such as eTwinning and Alfresco. As the focus is not on travelling and international exchange but on cooperatively creating products, former participants are still digitally connected to the project and as such, learners with a background as refugees are not excluded or set apart.

Didactics and methodology will work together in a transnational and trans-disciplinary form.
The project partners had already planned the activities of this week two years in advance during the course of the contract initiation. Since the official start of the project on 01/09/2016 the conceptualisation was further specified, assessed and enhanced. Discussions with the workshop leaders and exploration of the extra-curricular learning environment took place during preparations in Stratford within the second transnational project meeting from 10/07 to 12/07/2017.


Once again, learners of the Stifelsen English School of Gothenburg (ESG) in Sweden and the Friedrich-Wöhler Gymnasium (FWG) took part in the learning activity C2 in Stratford. Dr. Annette Deschner (University of Education, Karlsruhe) and Lisa Peter (lecturer at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust Stratford, UK) academically supervised and guided the learning activity. Ariane Ros and Anna-Katharina Schmitz, both students of the University of Education in Karlsruhe, executed the video documentation of the learning activity. Lisa Peter meticulously planned the extensive organisation on site at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust so that all participants felt at ease and were able to take part in an exchange in an authentic learning environment.


The following activities took place during the week.

Monday, 25 September 2017

In Henly Street at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust Lisa Peter welcomed us in the Queen Elisabeth Hall and prepare us for the week to come. Lisa Peter and her team at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust led the activities during the week at a very high level in terms of organisation and content. Lisa Peter’s interactive presentation on Shakespeare’s The Tempest introduced the topic of the learning activity in Stratford.

Afterwards, we explored the Shakespeare birth house and the day-to-day living conditions of Shakespeare and the people living in Elizabethan times. Here you will get a little impression of what it was like:

“A horse, a horse, a kingdom for a horse”: in the afternoon Sarah Horner’s workshop on language and verse looked at examples from Shakespeare’s works. The goal hereby was to enhance the understanding of the text even without prior lingual knowledge. The learners should realise that the message of the text can (and must) be understood without knowing English, giving it life not merely by reciting it, but sending the message more through articulation and the connecting the text with the body. This concept follows multilingual didactics and can be implemented by the learners throughout the project as a method to create peer lesson materials.

During the reading of the short version of Shakespeare’s The Tempest, characters of the play were briefly acted out by individuals using the storytelling method of Richard Martin. After this first encounter with the text the learners lay down on the floor and let themselves become inspired by music, which would help them think about how the first scene of the play can be physically depicted.


Tuesday, 26 September 2017

The morning began with a methodically prepared presentation by Lisa Peter about Shakespeare’s theatre architecture. The learners were able to slip into the roles of different actors in a game.

Following this, Sarah Horner’s workshop entitled “The Tempest – Exile and drama expressions“ guided the learners to the central topic of the project “home”: the learners should imagine themselves forced to leave their home. With the help of an intense chain of questions, Sarah Horner delved ever deeper into an emotional realm:
Why were we banished? How does this feel? Can one return to home? Imagine your home. Why were you forced to leave? How would you return? Imagine being in a strange country. What do you feel?
Influenced by these questions, the learners should each choose one name of a character in the play for e.g. Prospero, Miranda, Trinculo, who they would like to portray and execute a motion for. Learners grouped the characters after their status and power. Different opinions on this were discussed. Through this means of deliberating, the learners grew more accustomed to the topics and mechanisms of flight and exile.

During the tour of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust archives, Madeleine Cox brought the characters of the pieces between the pages to life. Like the project team during the preparatory meeting, the hidden treasures from around the world equally astonished the learners who toured the archives. The material worth of books surprised many and shed a new light on the novelty of a first edition.

As only small groups were allowed into the archives, this phase was conducted in parts. The reading room was used to look up terms in the CUSHA online dictionary and revise the different editions in the individual languages of origin as well as the mother tongues. These were brought in to the reading room by employees of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.

Afterwards the learners should dive into the world of Prospero with the help of the surrounding books and solve the Mystery Geocaches. The groups of fairies of the Geocache “Fairies Singen” from the first learning activity were kept to make the connection clear. The solutions could be found with the help of the multilingual edition of The Tempest in the reading room.


Wednesday, 27 September 2017

The learners implement the methods from the workshops they visited the previous days on to the peer lesson materials.

In the fourth act of The Tempest Prospero delights the lovers Miranda and Ferdinand with a game of masks. Roxanne Bennis introduced the learners to the world of Renaissance dance. Not only did she teach them the steps to the dance, but she also relayed many interesting facts. For instance, that dance during Shakespeare’s time was seen as a sport. Elizabeth I was said to have danced three galliards before breakfast every day.

In the afternoon Anjna Chouhan prepared the group for Coriolanus, an evening piece of the Royal Shakespeare Company.

Lyn Darnley worked with the learners on voice building in the “Voice Class” workshop and combined her exercises with multilingual didactics.

As a successful man of the theatre in London, Shakespeare had become prosperous and was able to erect an impressive manor not far from his birth house. New Place was re-designed by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust. The manor is not used as a conventional museum for the public, instead it depicts Shakespeare’s life and work through the arts.

After visiting New Place the evening began with Coriolanus.


Thursday, 28 September 2017

Anjna Chouhan discussed the long theatre evening full of intrigue and power games while revising the piece with the learners.
Afterwards the entries of the CUSHA online dictionary were further expanded with the use of video data. Objects for visualisation could be found at authentic places.

Sarah Horner prepared the learners to perform key scenes from Shakespeare’s The Tempest in the afternoon before an audience at the birthplace garden stage.

During this time, the project team filmed a video for the next Stakeholder-Webinar. The Webinar should showcase the products and progressions during the second learning activity.
Ariane Rose and Anna-Katharina Schmitz, both students of the University of Education Karlsuhe, documented the learning activity in Stratford.

Actors and actresses of the Trust play upon the round stage in the garden of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust. A line from Shakespeare’s works can be called out and the scene will be play ad hoc. The visitors of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust are included in this and are thus able to become for e.g. the bridge between Pyramus and Thisbe.

The stage is used during all kinds of weather, be it rain or wind. The actors and actresses can warm up in the common room, where the tea-ladies provide warm tea. During our week, we were able to reside here during tea breaks. The learners were thus able to have access to and communicate with the actors and actresses.

Sarah Horner upheld the suspense in the group from rehearsals to the performance of the The Tempest on the garden stage. There they stranded, engulfed by ocean waves and recited to people from all over the world their tale of flight and life on strange island.

The Tempest, Shakespeare’s final piece, ended at his grave. The Geocache led here over numerous stations in the life and times of Shakespeare.


Friday, 29 September 2017

Shakespeare’s work lives on as colourful as the performance of Much Ado About Nothing at the Globe Theatre in London.


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