Stunning symposium on Shakespeare

Year 10 students were recently offered a masterclass in Shakespearean drama by acclaimed theatre company Sport for Jove.

Led by Managing Artistic Director Damien Ryan and performed by actors from the company, Sport for Jove presented a memorable and searching interrogation of Year 10’s English text for Term 1, William Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew.

In the symposium, Ryan mixed commentary, analysis, storytelling and critical discussion that helped to contextualise the play throughout performances of key scenes.

William Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew, an early play, is often thought of as one of his most contentious and controversial for what critics call its misogyny and sexism.

Ryan did not shy away from the criticisms, leaning into the play’s divisiveness. Making powerful contemporary links to media narratives about Australian of the Year Grace Tame, or the School Strike for Climate activist Greta Thunberg, he told students that “Shakespeare’s plays exist at the fissure or fault line of essential human debates, and he never lets us know where he stands on these issues, which force us to examine them for ourselves.”

“Rapt Year 10 students saw scenes performed in different ways to emphasise different interpretations, especially satirical ones,” said Head of English and Philosophy Thom Marchbank.

Year 10 student Liv Ray Laaksonen said: “The presentation by Sport for Jove was simply amazing. I gained many new perspectives and different ways to adapt a very controversial Shakespeare play, The Taming of the Shrew, that I had not thought about before. Damian Ryan brought his ideas and explanations to life in scenes with other very talented and charismatic actors. The presentation was insightful, interesting and very entertaining.”

Sport for Jove will return to International Grammar School in Term 2 to deliver a similar symposium to Year 12 students on King Henry IV, Part 1, and IGS students will also get the thrilling chance to work more closely with Ryan when he directs a performance of an as yet to be decided Shakesepare play at IGS in Term 2.