Adaptation is a vital topic for my students because they are always already in process of adapting. Adolescents build their own minds, in real time, making choices whose consequences carry them through adulthood. My students arrive in situations, familial, cultural, global, into which they determine their very selves. “Adaptation” can refer to both a cultural process and a biological one: in the same way that a film or a novel shifts shape through a new situation, an individual or a species also reacts, determines, grows to become something new. I want my students informed in this process of growth within themselves as well as within the texts we study. When my students read, they offer “Shakespeare should…” or “what if…”; as an educator I want to collaborate on these projections as my students apply the same speculative processes to their own developments.
New Haven’s Engineering and Science University Magnet School shares Connecticut’s achievement gap. This gap concerns me as it does other New Haven teachers; to address it I want to inspire students in their learning by validating and involving the whole child. I feel I need to be as passionate as they about the dramas where they locate themselves in order to help them claim ownership of these dramas. Because their growth is a process in which I strive to be involved, adaptation as a rigorous study will direct my students’ own stories and subjectivities as well as their trajectories. What they become however is always their own.
My sophomores have always loved reading and performing Shakespeare’s
; it is about power and choice and consequences, and treachery, and violence, and madness, and the supernatural. These among other elements of the play are no less pertinent to my students than to Holinshed or Shakespeare or Welles or Kurosawa. The historical event is long gone, an absent presence both material and iconic, but the questions it asks of its audience have clearly rolled around in the minds of many artists. These questions grab my students. Shakespeare’s unusually interactive dialogue and his exciting plot lines keep them hooked. They love performing the plays, and they love projecting their own adaptations, and I’d like to further educate their imaginations with both the play and the two filmmakers whose creations of the drama continue to electrify their audiences. Each adaptation was located within an ideological as well as a historical context from whose study I feel my students will be enriched as they construct their own narratives.