Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Noisy, Messy, Creative Shakespearean Chaos

For the first time ever in the (short) history of the Random Acts, students are incorporating music and rap into their sonnet performances. I'm pretty happy about that. None of my students in the past have been brave enough to try! 

Here's a rap version of Shakespeare's Sonnet 18 by Levi S and Joe B. They made this recording to guide their group's performance, which will probably happen soon during the Middle School lunch period.

Kori P also made a voice recording, in which she sings the words of the same sonnet to the music from the "Cup Song," as it's now known. She recorded it in two parts, so you can listen to it here:  
 and here:  .

You can read about the song's interesting history and hear several versions of it here and here. (I'm hoping they'll do the percussion thing with the cups as part of their performance…hint, hint.

We're starting to take the Sonnets on "tour" through Middle School classrooms, as practice for our lunch-time cafeteria performances, which should start this Friday and continue through next week. Here's a 1A example from the other day, filmed in Mr K-J's room.

As we practice for these performances, things get noisy, chaotic, and messy (we sometimes sneak into the Cafeteria to practice, and I always wonder if Chef Korach and his crew think we're crazy). At times, it may look like nothing significant is happening, but that's the nature of the creative process, which is neither linear nor orderly. Yes, I have to push and prod, and sometimes yell, and occasionally threaten homework, tests, etc, to make it all happen, but somehow it all turns out okay…usually…I hope…

As Phillip Henslowe (played by Geoffrey Rush) explains in Shakespeare in Love (1998), "It's a mystery!"


  1. I would love to see singing and cup-gaming at the same time. Dr. Nygaard, I'm just going to blame you for this: I've had this sonnet song in my head since you sent the practice video to us last week. If I were ever in danger of forgetting that sonnet, I can now say that the danger has completely passed.

    It's funny how things keep coming up in cyclical patterns. We used to sit in rounds at our tables at camp when I was a kid and do the "cup game," as we called it. (We didn't have any music to go with it, just the rhythm of the game.) The first table to be in total sync would get to leave the cafeteria first and wouldn't have to wash the dishes or tables. Woe to the kid who swung his cup too wide (and it skittered off the table from the force) or too short (and the next person couldn't quite reach her new cup in time) if your table came in last. When groups of us would eat out together in high school, someone would randomly start absent-mindedly playing with her glass, tapping out the cup game, and soon the entire table was joining in and flinging glasses to each other. (I still do this without thinking if my glass ends up empty as I'm eating out with others. Sometimes I just end up tapping out the rhythm on the table, even if no cup is in front of me. The latter can drive my husband a bit nuts, as he sadly wasn't privy to the cup game when he was a kid.)

    1. Great comment! (Children, do you see how well written this is? --LOOK at all the details in this anecdote!) Mrs GR, I too have had this song in my head for about a week now. I have a great video of the kids doing the cup-game while singing, and I'll post it soon!