Joanna Ciechanowska was my host in Torun as was Artur Mikiewicz, Director of the College. Joanna introduced me to her
course work and her students and Artur filled me in on the College and its programs.
Torun Teacher Training College was established in 1990 to train foreign language teachers in primary and secondary schools
and is affiliated with Nicholas Copernicus University. The program trains English, German, and French language teachers through
course work that takes three years to complete. Groups of about fifteen stay together in the same group for the three years
till graduation and follow a fairly fixed curriculum starting with practical language skills in the first year leading to
more subject knowledge, pedagogy, and teacher training as the the student proceeds through the program.
As mentioned above, the Drama Course is taken the first semester of the freshman year. The course starts with warm-up
activities and proceeds through exercises that work with speech articulation, rhythm in verse, eliciting stories, narrating
and acting out plays, story-reading, techniques of reading aloud, delivering dialogues, improvisation techniques, developing
drama from improvisation, poetry reading, exploring Shakespeare, and ends with the writing and performance of the students'
The unit devoted to exploring Shakespeare is where I came in.
Joanna was working with two classes, a day class and an evening class, on in-class productions of Macbeth. Both classes
were working with the same material: an abridged version of Macbeth created by Anita Debska and linked with
narrative "in such a way as to provide a portion of text to each student."
The previous activity had students memorize a poem for delivery in class. In today's classes, the students
move around the classroom speaking their verses to different people for a warm-up activity. The story of Macbeth is then introduced
by the teacher. After telling the basic story, she then goes to the board and writes some lines from the play on
the board. She explains the way that blank verse works and how to express the rhythm. The teacher talks about stress
and phrasing and has students practice in choral fashion. She then completes the telling of the story and has the students
move into small groups where they work with various scenes tackling the language and the meaning of the language. To
develop the understanding of the play and the characters, she has students articulate what the characters are thinking
and what their objectives are. Rehearsal continues with the students interweaving speeches, creating still images of certain
scenes, and doing improvisations based on character objectives. Finally, students continue reading the entire text standing
in a circle reading different sections in turn.
The second part of the unit is devoted to "Enactment". The four performance groups already established get together in
separate circles with the scripts for their three scenes. They decide what characters they will play. Then, they
rehearse two group scenes, the banquet scene and the final scene when Malcolm becomes king. The two group scenes are rehearsed
and next, the students are told to go to rehearse their scenes in preparation for performance. The groups go to different
places in the large classroom and to other locations in the building to rehearse the lines and movement of their scenes.
While the students are rehearsing, the teacher writes on the board a list of scenes by number and prepares the music
to play between the scenes. She also coaches the students on proper pronunciation of some of the more difficult words and
checks for clarity.
Finally, the students gather together again and present their scenes as indicated by the order on the board. They
are all engaged and alert to organize quickly and efficiently to present the play. They perform according to the movement
patterns that they have worked out in rehearsal and achieve a remarkeable performance of Macbeth!
The following pictures are photos of the two classes put together according to activities.