Workshop Much Ado for teacher

Clermont teacher Leanne Perna is bringing Shakespeare into country classrooms.
Clermont teacher Leanne Perna is bringing Shakespeare into country classrooms.

MUCH ado about nothing, or a brush with the timeless beauty of the bard that can only benefit bush kids?

Definitely the latter, according to Clermont State High School teacher Leanne Perna.

Leanne was one of only 12 rural and remote teachers chosen Australia-wide to attend a four-day workshop at the prestigious Bell Shakespeare Company in Sydney this month.

Leanne, who teaches English and history to Years 10, 11 and 12, called the experience an “eye-opener into the way of the world”.

“It was fantastic, wonderful, and very special,” she said.

“A lot of people have negative perceptions of Shakespeare, but all the issues and themes he looks at are very relevant still today.

“For hundreds of years after he wrote these plays they are still being performed all around the world.

“Bell Shakespeare had us see Much Ado About Nothing and it was a fantastic performance, not set in Elizabethan times, but in the 1950s-60s Italy and not so far away from our scope of imagination.

“I went and saw a romantic comedy movie on the silver screen the night after and a lot of the themes were the same.”

Leanne, who has been in Clermont classrooms for five years and professes to love teaching in the bush, admitted Shakespeare could be a hard sell with students.

The trick, she said, was to realise the bard shouldn’t just be read, it needs to be experienced.

Leanne now plans to incorporate more drama into her classes, thanks to the skills she learned with Bell Shakespeare.

“Romeo and Juliet is on the Year 11 curriculum and its theme of teenagers rebelling is experienced today,” she said.

“Unfortunately it does have a tragic ending, but that’s something about learning from our mistakes.

“Sometimes still with kids, I think Shakespeare is a hard sell, but it’s going to be easier with the skills I now have to bring his works to life.

“Shakespeare wasn’t written to be read, it was written to be performed - even his manuscripts had actors’ notes in them.

“Students need to realise a lot of our language also came from Shakespeare who was writing at a time before the dictionary was finalised.”

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