Lisa Mumpton had a few ulterior motives when she helped set up a workshop series devoted to teaching Shakespeare.
Mumpton, the director of education at the Aurora Fox theater, wanted to bring classes to a wider range of students. Working with instructors Seth Maisel and Rebecca Salomonsson, Mumpton organized the five-part class series as a way to attract teachers and older actors who wanted to better understand the language aand poetry of William Shakespeare.
“I thought maybe we could give teachers some skills so they could help decide on Shakespeare pieces,” Mumpton said, “It’s to understand the language and make it active.
Shakespeare is best performed if you have good actors who understand what the text means.”
That being said, Mumpton had her own lessons to learn in the classes, which started March 12.
“I’m signed up,” Mumpton said. “A lot of my students are asking for consultation time to help them prepare Shakespeare pieces. I wanted to go back to school a little bit myself.”
Both Maisel and Salomonsson have extensive experience with Shakespeare’s plays, sonnets and stagecraft, Mumpton said, and the series is designed to give actors, directors, teachers and theater enthusiasts aged 16 and older a deeper sense of the material.
“They’re both very devoted to it,” Mumpton said. “That’s their love. That’s the thing they love the most about teaching and theater.”
The classes touch on different aspects of some of William Shakespeare’s most notable works, from “Romeo and Juliet” to “Macbeth.” Instruction includes a focus on scenes, language and even stage combat for the final workshop on April 16.
“The acting scenes will focus on character development and circumstances for the scene,” Mumpton said. “You can have violence in your Shakespeare scenes. We may have wooden swords, and focus on basic things like fall, choke, hair pulling ... Those are also used in comedies a lot.”
Mumpton hopes that focusing on such details in Shakespeare’s plays will serve as a way to draw new students, theater buffs or casual drama fans who want to get to know the bard a little bit better.
“They don’t have to have had any acting experience,” Mumpton said. “It’s fun, it’s laid back, we’re learning so much, it’s really exciting.”
The Saturday Shakespeare Workshop series will take place at 1 p.m. at the Martin Luther King Jr. Library, 9898 E. Colfax Ave., on March 19, March 26, April 9 and April 16. Each class is $40 and $31 for Aurora residents.