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Reaching for the Globe

Arviat's John Arnalukjuak High School (JAHS) hosted the first international Connected North session with Shakespeare's Globe theatre in London, England, on Jan. 11.

A group of teachers, drama club members and students from various senior classes wait for an an actor from Shakespeare's Globe theatre in London, England, to join them on-screen as John Arnalukjuak High School hosts the first international Connected North session in Arviat on Jan. 11. photo courtesy of Gord Billard

An actor from the famous London troupe took the Arviat students on a brief virtual tour of the theatre and then led them in a theatre-related workshop activity.

Drama teacher and play director Gord Billard said the idea for the session began while he was visiting Newfoundland during the holidays and ran into former JAHS teacher Kim Dymond.

He said Dymond told him she had recently completed an odyssey across Canada with her husband and was involved with some contract work with Jennifer Corriero and TakingItGlobal.

“TakingItGlobal has taken over the administration of the Connected North program that Cisco Canada got on the go,” said Billard.

“Kim was contracted by TakingItGlobal to help universities, colleges and schools in the North connect with institutions in the south, and experts who can contribute their knowledge to curriculum objectives and the things we're doing in classrooms here.She told me Connected North had made contact with the Globe Theatre in London, England, which was willing to participate in preparing a session for some of our students, and asked if I was interested.

“I jumped on that immediately and was told they wanted to get it on the go in early January of 2018 and, when I returned to Arviat, I was informed it was scheduled for Jan. 11 at 1 p.m.”

Billard said, as it so happened, his Grade 10 drama class was working on miniature 3D-models of the Globe Theatre.

“We were working on the Globe – talking about it and studying it – and now, all of a sudden, we're going live and in colour with an actual Shakespearean actor who works there,” he said.

“They did a brief tour of the theatre, conducted a workshop with our students and answered their questions at the end.We had a great connection with really crisp images and good sound for the very first international session that Connected North has done.

“The actor from the Globe did an activity with our students dealing with the iambic pentameter, which is the rhyme scheme Shakespeare used in his sonnets, plays and great speeches.”

Billard said the session lasted close to an hour and everyone was thrilled with the way the first international session went for Connected North and the gathering at JAHS.

Billard said he's quite confident another session will be held, during which they'll concentrate a lot more on the structure, itself.

He said the students really want to see all the crooks, crannies and secret spaces around the Globe Theatre.

“They also suggested another couple of possible sessions, including one called Will's World, where a man dresses up as William Shakespeare and acts out, in roles, events from his life and scenes from his plays,” said Billard.

“Another one is Acting 101, where they connect with an Indigenous actor who's made his way through the industry and is willing to talk live with the students about his journey and the challenges he met along the way.

“Those two sessions really peaked my interest and the students will be quite interested in checking them out, as well. The Government of Nunavut will also be helping with the next two connections, but I don't have exact dates yet.”

The original Globe Theatre was an an Elizabethan playhouse built in London, 1599, by William Shakespeare's playing company. It was destroyed by fire in 1613.

Shakespeare's Globe houses a working reconstruction of the original Globe Theatre on the south bank of the River Thames. It opened to the public in 1997.