Session abstracts

Discover more about the 2024 National Teacher Conference sessions, presented by an incredible lineup of arts practitioners, teachers and Bell Shakespeare staff and artists.

DAY 1 – FRIDAY 9 AUGUST, 9.45am - 10.45am

PRESENTATION
Karaoke with King Duncan: Andy Griffiths on the Joy of Play
Andy Griffiths

Is ‘play’ simply a luxury that we allow ourselves to enjoy when all the other important things in life (eg. becoming King of Scotland and doing whatever it takes to remain so) have been achieved? Or are its apparently ‘pointless’ pleasures in fact the very point of life — or at least an essential part of it? Both plays and books provide essential enchanted spaces for imagination. In this session celebrated author Andy Griffiths explores the magic of play and creativity through the lens of developing Just Macbeth! for the stage and the 13-Storey Treehouse series for the page. And, if we’re lucky, perhaps we’ll have time to lure King Duncan down from Heaven to dazzle us with his karaoke.

In this spirited and engaging session, Andy Griffiths will discuss the value of playful creation and encourage teachers to develop their own skills in play and creativity. In discussing the challenges and opportunities of adapting classic texts for young audiences, Griffiths will speak to the value of creative, imagined spaces of play. Following his presentation, teachers will be invited to ask questions in an open Q&A. Not to be missed - bring your inner child.

About Andy GriffithsAbout Andy Griffiths

DAY 1 – FRIDAY 9 AUGUST, 10.50am - 11.30am

WORKSHOP
Live Shakespeare Workshop Demonstration

Emily Edwards, Bell Shakespeare Resident Artist in Education

Become observer and participant as Bell Shakespeare's Resident Artist in Education, Emily Edwards, demonstrates strategies and techniques for teachers to use in the classroom, focusing on engaging students with an active, embodied experience of Shakespeare's language. These strategies and techniques can be applied to the teaching of any text, and is not limited to Shakespeare. The session will focus specifically on practical approaches to literary devices and language analysis.

About Emily EdwardsAbout Emily Edwards

DAY 1 – FRIDAY 9 AUGUST, 12.15pm - 1.15pm

PRESENTATION
Aboriginality in Shakespeare
Kyle Morrison

In this session actor and director Kyle Morrison will speak about the intersection of Shakespeare’s works with Noongar culture and language. Morrison, the former Artistic Director of Yirra Yaakin Theatre, has an extensive history working with Shakespeare including translating Shakespeare’s sonnets into Noongar language, presented at the World Shakespeare Festival in London at Shakespeare’s Globe.

The Noongar Sonnets project broke ground on the cultural collaboration between Noongar language and Shakespeare’s texts by creating six of Shakespeare’s sonnets fully adapted into Noongar worldview and philosophical paradigm through Noongar language. Morrison will also speak to engaging young people in cultural adaption projects by sharing about the Junior Sonneteers Program, which engaged 30 students (15 students of Noongar heritage and 15 of mixed and diverse heritage) from Perth.

Teachers will learn in this session how to meaningfully connect First Nations language, culture and storytelling to classic texts in the classroom, as well as new perspectives on the relevance of Shakespeare’s texts in conversation with First Nations culture and history.

About Kyle MorrisonAbout Kyle Morrison

DAY 1 – FRIDAY 9 AUGUST, 1.20pm - 2.25pm

PRESENTATION
TEACHER SNAPSHOTS

Various

Four Australian teachers present 15-minute quickfire sessions, sharing real stories, strategies and learnings from their own classrooms. It’s an opportunity for teachers to hear the ways in which Shakespeare is being taught around the country, and to get some new perspectives, insights and ideas. They will share examples of classroom practice in diverse student settings, demonstrating innovation and creativity in teaching, as well as student achievement and engagement.

DAY 1 – FRIDAY 9 AUGUST, 2.45pm - 3.45pm

PANEL
Inclusive Shakespeare
Featuring Seamus Curtain-Magee, Chaired by Joanna Erskine

In this enriching conversation, a range of teachers and arts practitioners will discuss Shakespeare and underrepresented and/or marginalised people, including young people with lived experience of disability/ies, neurodiversity, and EAL/D learners. The discussion will include sharing of strategies, approaches in regards to teaching Shakespeare to students from marginalised and/or underrepresented young people. Panellists will discuss the challenges and opportunities of teaching Shakespreare and other classic texts to students in these settings.

The discussion will include conversation around barriers to accessing Shakespeare for marginalised and/or underrepresented young people, strategies and resources that have been proven successful in engaging marginalised and/or underrepresented young people with Shakespeare. Featuring real stories and reflections from lived experiences, this is an important conversation that will help teachers engage with all learners in meaningful ways.

About Seamus Curtain-MageeAbout Seamus Curtain-Magee

DAY 1 – FRIDAY 9 AUGUST, 3.50pm - 4.50pm

PRESENTATION
Shakespeare’s Lessons in Leadership

James Evans, Bell Shakespeare Associate Director

What kind of a leader are you, and what can Shakespeare’s characters teach us about our own personal leadership style? Shakespeare was obsessed with leadership. In each of his plays, he delves into both inspiring and disastrous leaders, and examines the backgrounds and behaviours that lead to one or the other. In this session, Bell Shakespeare Associate Director James Evans, and Resident Artist in Education Emily Edwards, will guide you through the best and worst of Shakespeare’s leaders, from the soaring rhetoric of Henry V to the heedless arrogance of Richard II, the skilful manipulation of Lady Macbeth to the rambunctious energy of Bottom. What do we learn from these extraordinary characters that can inform the way we speak, guide, inspire and lead in the classroom?

Featuring performances of extracts from across Shakespeare’s canon, in this session teachers will reflect on their own unique personal leadership style, and on the kind of leader they want to be in the future. They will identify and reflect on the facets of successful and unsuccessful leadership, inspired by a study of Shakespeare's leaders. A rousing end to Day 1.

About James EvansAbout James Evans

DAY 1 – FRIDAY 9 AUGUST, 5.00pm - 6.30pm

Evening Soiree

Join Bell Shakespeare and a national network of teachers for drinks and refreshments at our spectacular harbourside location. A time for celebration and conversation, with a special performance from Bell Shakespeare’s The Players.

DAY 2 – SATURDAY 10 AUGUST, 9.45am - 10.45am

KEYNOTE
Fate, Show Thy Force: Kate Mulvany on a life with Shakespeare

Kate Mulvany OAM

Kate Mulvany grew up in Geraldton/Jambinu in the Mid-West region of Western Australia, where mining, crayfishing and farming took centre stage. At school she was told to avoid Shakespeare, that she would 'never need to know’ his works. But Shakespeare found a way into her life and ended up having a transformational impact. Now, Mulvany is a playwright, screenwriter, librettist, dramaturg, star of stage and screen, and one of Australia's most celebrated artists.

In this honest, hilarious and illuminating keynote, Kate Mulvany will reflect on her journey with Shakespeare, from first interactions at her country high school, to mainstage at the Sydney Opera House for Bell Shakespeare, and beyond. She will share her insights into playing the great roles of Shakespeare, including Lady Macbeth, Cassius and Richard III, and what those characters have taught her, as well how Shakespeare gave her strength when she needed it most. Kate’s keynote is for everyone - from the Shakespeare aficionados, to those with a passing interest in his work. But most of all, it is for those who are the reluctant tourists - because Kate knows exactly what that’s like. This captivating keynote will inspire and refresh you as Kate invites you to celebrate how Shakespeare, playmaking and storytelling can result in the most wondrously accidental alliances.

About Kate Mulvany OAMAbout Kate Mulvany OAM

DAY 2 – SATURDAY 10 AUGUST, 10.50am - 11.50am

PRESENTATION
Midnights Mayhem: How Taylor Swift unlocks Shakespeare’s Sonnets

Prof Liam E. Semler

Looking for a fresh way to teach Shakespeare’s poetry? Turns out Tay Tay’s done the work for you. There’s an unexpected synergy between Shakespeare’s Sonnets and Taylor Swift’s album Midnights which you can harness in the classroom. In this presentation, the University of Sydney’s Professor Liam Semler will show what these two celebrity artists have in common and how they throw light (not shade) on each other. When Swift and Shakespeare meet at midnight big poetic concepts get real, close reading gets tuned, and metaphors and genres leap off the page.

About Prof Liam E. SemlerAbout Prof Liam E. Semler

DAY 2 – SATURDAY 10 AUGUST, 12.40pm - 1.45pm

PRESENTATION
TEACHER SNAPSHOTS

Various

Four Australian teachers present 15-minute quickfire sessions, sharing real stories, strategies and learnings from their own classrooms. It’s an opportunity for teachers to hear the ways in which Shakespeare is being taught around the country, and to get some new perspectives, insights and ideas. They will share examples of classroom practice in diverse student settings, demonstrating innovation and creativity in teaching, as well as student achievement and engagement.

DAY 2 – SATURDAY 10 AUGUST, 1.50pm - 2.40pm

PANEL
Shakespeare in the Curriculum

Various

In this session, teachers will hear from a range of teachers and practitioners about the role of Shakespeare in Australian curricula. Panelists will discuss the way that Shakespeare is framed in curriculum, and suggested approaches. A key focus of discussion will be how to ensure innovative teaching of Shakespeare and other classic texts in the curriculum that promotes student engagement and teacher enjoyment.

The discussion will include reflections on the role that Shakespeare has in NSW and other state-based Australian curricula, the importance of Shakespeare in comparison to other texts and composers, including contemporary Australian artists, and which Shakespeare texts are best suited to student learning stages.

DAY 2 – SATURDAY 10 AUGUST, 3.00pm - 4.00pm

PANEL
The Elephant in the Room

Jane Caro AM and Ann Caro

The word 'crisis' has become an unavoidable descriptor of the current reality of Australian teachers and schools. Amid media outlet reporting and government responses, the voices of teachers and the stories of real experience are too often unheard. In this panel discussion, Australian author and social commentator Jane Caro AM and her sister, Principal Ann Caro, will discuss current challenges for teachers and speak to changes that would have positive impact in the teaching profession. This will be a conversation of sharing, of openness and truth-telling, approached with humour and heart.

Ann Caro will speak to her experiences in executive and leadership roles in a range of Western Sydney schools. She will share stories about policy implementation including models of success, and challenges encountered. Jane Caro will speak to her work as a public education advocate, and facilitate discussion around areas of improvement. Jane and Ann will facilitate a Q&A with teachers attending live and via livestream, so that they may raise questions for discussion for the teaching community. Together, we will identify and reflect on the challenges experienced in current teaching and school environments, and make plans for positive change and advocacy in our schools.

About Jane CaroAbout Jane Caro

DAY 2 – SATURDAY 10 AUGUST, 4.05pm - 4.50pm

PANEL
AI & the Death of Shakespeare

Various

Can classic texts such as Shakespeare, and the creation of new art, survive and thrive in an AI world? Would Shakespeare have used AI if he had access to it? In this provocative panel, teachers will hear from a range of teachers and arts practitioners about the use of AI technologies in the classroom. Panelists will discuss the challenges and opportunities of using AI with students, and speak about the intersection of new technologies and classic texts. A key focus of discussion will be the impact of AI on the creation of texts, and the impact on new arts creation.

The discussion will include reflections on how teachers use AI in their classrooms, the programs and resources are accessible to teachers and students, and the barriers and challenges to accessing and using AI technologies in the classroom. How can Shakespeare’s texts and other classic texts integrate or respond to AI technologies and do AI technologies have a positive or negative impact on student learning? What impact will AI technologies have on student outcomes and achievement? Does AI mean the end of the artist as it is traditionally known? Join us for this juicy conversation, and join in our open Q&A to follow.