Battle of the Bard®
Battle of the Bard®(BOTB) is a region-wide series of Shakespeare slam events open to high school teams throughout the Chicago area. In partnership with Chicago Shakespeare Theater since 2015, BOTB was designed to cross boundaries—of geography, cultures and experience—through performance, team spirit, and friendly competition. Building a community that spans the Chicago region, Battle of the Bard celebrates Shakespeare’s capacity to speak to all.
A series of Saturday team workshops and Regional Bouts culminate in the Final Bout, held in Chicago Shakespeare’s Courtyard Theater. In the 2017-2018 school year, the program will include 50 schools and 300 high school students performing Shakespeare scenes, plus their own creative mash-ups from Shakespeare’s canon in a slam-style arena. The program honors the unparalleled power of Shakespeare’s language when it is catalyzed by students’ imagination as they discover the playwright’s relevance to their own lives.
"Our process was wonderful and my students felt transformed and grateful for being a part of it. - BOTB Teacher/Coach
2016 Program Overview
One of the overarching objectives for BOTB is to create an environment in which students can play with the endless possible interpretations that exist within Shakespeare’s words—while also making sure that all pieces can be performed on a level playing field. To this end, we’ve developed a short list of guidelines that we ask each team to follow as they develop their two performance pieces.
1. All language used must be from the works of William Shakespeare.
2. Each performance piece must stay within the time limit of 5 minutes. (Points will be deducted for pieces exceeding the 5-minute time limit.)
3. All pieces are performed without the use of props, costumes or musical instruments. (Eight chairs will be available for use at each Bout.)
4. Teams may (and are encouraged to!) make cuts to the text as needed.
5. Students may portray any role or roles, regardless of gender, age, race, or any other factors.
6. Ideally, performance pieces are fully memorized.
7. Bilingual students may choose to perform some of Shakespeare’s words in another language.
Team Coach Responsibilities
As a teacher/team coach, you are committing to:
-Register your school to participate
-Recruit 4-8 students to participate on your school team
-Collect and submit release forms for your student team members
-Organize and supervise regular meetings to rehearse at school
-Advise students on text selection
-Organize and/or provide transportation to “Rally the Troupes” (the Spring kickoff event on April 26 at Chicago Cultural Center), one Saturday Team Workshop in the Fall, and one or two Slam events in the Fall (one Preliminary Bout, and hopefully the Finals!)
Slam Round Descriptions
Battle of the Bard’s two different slam rounds encourage ensemble performance and focus on exploring Shakespeare’s characters in dialogue with one another and with the audience. Every team will create two performance pieces, one for each round.
1. The SCENE ROUND [time limit: 5 minutes | participants: 2 - 8 team members]
Students from each team perform a single scene (or a cut version of a single scene) from any of Shakespeare’s plays.
2. The ENSEMBLE ROUND [time limit: 5 minutes | participants: all members of the team]
Each team will create and perform a collective ensemble piece using text from any of—and possibly multiple—Shakespeare plays or sonnets. The ensemble piece is NOT meant to be a straightforward performance of a single scene from Shakespeare. The Ensemble Round is a devised theater piece that explores Shakespeare’s words and themes in an original and creative way. The goals of the Ensemble Round are to provide students with opportunities to:
-think outside the box
-explore creative ways to communicate the meaning of Shakespeare’s language as a collective ensemble.
Participating schools receive language and performance-based curricular resources, aligned with Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts and the newly released National Core Arts Standards. In addition to these online resources, hands-on workshops are offered regionally and are designed to engage students and teachers together, helping teachers bring Shakespeare to life . Breakout sessions include text analysis, voice, movement, and the actor/ audience relationship.
Giving Back | About Team Sponsorship
Battle of the Bard® encourages students to give back to their school and to the larger community. School teams have the option to raise sponsorship dollars through their participation in the program. One-hundred percent of the sponsorship dollars raised by team members goes back to their school to support arts programming and resources. Or, teams may opt to raise funds in support of a school identified by the CPS Department of Arts Education as one currently prepared to expand its arts programming with additional funds.
The amazing people I met have such unique talents and it scares me that I might have never met them. Also, my appreciation for Shakespeare has gone through the roof – (now I can't wait to read Lear and Hamlet and The Tempest next year)! – BOTB Student
TEAM COACH WEBINAR
Wednesday, April 13, 7:00 – 8:00pm
(Web address to come)
Especially helpful for new team coaches (and a good refresher for all!), this webinar will offer a chance to learn more about the ins and outs of BOTB, including tips for recruiting students and structuring school rehearsals, followed by a Q&A session.
Saturday, September 10, 8:00 a.m.–1:15 p.m. at Niles North High School (9800 Lawler Ave, Skokie) or
Saturday, September 17, 8:00 a.m.–1:15 p.m. at Westinghouse College Prep (3223 W. Franklin Blvd, Chicago) or
Saturday, September 24, 8:00 a.m.–1:15 p.m. at Mather High School (5835 N Lincoln Ave, Chicago)
The regional half-day Team Workshop provides tools—and practice—to break open Shakespeare’s language and begin creating your two Battle of the Bard performance pieces. Every participating team (the teacher coach with ideally all, but with a minimum of two, student team members) MUST ATTEND ONE Team Workshop. When you register, you will be asked to indicate your availability and preferences, and we will do our best to accommodate them.
RALLY THE TROUPES!
Tuesday, April 26, 5:00 - 7:30pm
Chicago Cultural Center
Intersection of Michigan Ave. and Randolph St.
GAR Hall, 2nd Floor (Randolph St. entrance)
A “passing of the torch” and program kickoff event, RALLY THE TROUPES celebrates the inventive work that our students created in 2015, and sets the stage for our BOTB 2016 programs and community. All past, new, and prospective Battle of the Bard students and team coaches are encouraged to attend!
Saturday, October 22, 8:00 a.m.–1:00 p.m. at Kenwood Academy High School (5015 S. Blackstone Ave, Chicago) or
Saturday, October 29, 8:00 a.m.–1:00 p.m. at Oak Park and River Forest High School (201 N. Scoville Ave, Oak Park) or
Saturday, November 5, 8:00 a.m.–1:00 p.m. at Senn High School (5900 N. Glenwood Ave, Chicago)
At each Preliminary Bout, 16-17 teams will battle it out onstage—and support other teams from offstage!—as each performs a scene and ensemble piece for one another. The three top-scoring teams from each Preliminary will move on to the Final Bout at Chicago Shakespeare Theater. Every participating team must attend one Preliminary Bout. When you register, you will be asked to indicate your availability and preferences, and we will do our best to accommodate them.
Monday, November 14, 6:00 p.m.–9:00 p.m.
Chicago Shakespeare’s Courtyard Theater on Navy Pier
ALL participating 2016 BOTB teams are our honored guests at Finals, with the nine top-scoring teams from Prelims performing onstage and the rest of the BOTB community cheering them on. Teams competing in the Final Bout will perform the same performance pieces that they performed at their Preliminary Bout.
Battle of the Bard 2015
When I looked at all those kids on stage, a feeling of great hope came over me. I thought about all that language, all that creativity and thought, all that discipline and focus, all that collaboration and conversation—and I thought: those young people have all that it takes to lead us through this century. – BOTB Teacher/Coach
Battle of the Bard 2015 Calendar of Events
December 2014 | BOTB Webinar and Online Resources for Teachers
February 2015 | Team Workshop Days
School teams attend one regional workshop day, designed to engage students and teachers together, and to help teams prepare for both BOTB Slam categories.
• Saturday, February 14, 2015
Oak Park River Forest High School (Oak Park, IL)
• Saturday, February 21, 2015
Kenwood Academy (Hyde Park community)
April 2015 | Preliminary Bouts
Each school team participates in one Preliminary Bout with a total of fifteen school teams. The top five schools from each Preliminary slam will move on to the Battle of the Bard Finals at Chicago Shakespeare Theater.
Saturday, April 11
Niles North High School (Skokie)
Saturday, April 18
Benito Juarez Community Academy (Chicago’s Pilsen community).
May 2015 | Battle of the Bard Finals
Chicago Shakespeare Theater on Navy Pier
Nine high school teams participated in the BOTB Finals on the Courtyard Theater stage at Chicago Shakespeare Theater on Navy Pier; and all of our BOTB participants were invited to be our guests in the audience on May 5 to celebrate their own work and to cheer on fellow students and school teams in the Finals Bout.