Hey! Who Barded in Here?!
(Or, Stop and Smell the Renaissance)

I was delighted to have my work on Shakespeare and the senses highlighted in Teaching Shakespeare Magazine 7 (February 2015). (Download the article)

It's time to stop and smell the Renaissance! In this unique hands-on workshop students encounter Shakespeare through the smells that defined his world.

They discover:

—What it means if a boyfriend is fickle as violet.

—Why rosemary is 'for remembrance'.

—Why frankincense (a 'perfume of Arabia') is used in churches.

—Why cinnamon is oh-so-scandalous.

—What it's like to live with 'cheese and garlic in a windmill'.

—Whether or not a 'rose by any other name would smell as sweet'.

Later (that is, if they survive the sulphurous stench of Renaissance Hell), students join the ranks of the nobility through anointment with rose water.

What students are saying:

"Well, at first I thought I wouldn't have fun, but I was 100% wrong! I loved this!"

"I think that it was cool that we got to smell the Renaissance."

"Shakespeare has smells and isn't boring."

"Now I can remember what Shakespeare's plays are talking about."

"Maybe all these smells good and bad dealt with the social order of the Renaissance."

"I found it so interesting how much smells influenced Shakespearean times, it really gave me an insight into that time."

"Best and most entertaining thing I have learned."

What teachers are saying:

"At first, I thought your idea was a fun, interesting, almost extra-curricular exploration of Shakespeare. I introduced the concept to my students and most of them gave me perplexed looks, with comments such as, "Uh...that sounds weird!" When you were done presenting to my class, my perspective had completely changed. The faculty of smell is not only vital to understanding and appreciating the world of Shakespearian literature, it is in danger of becoming extinct. You completely engaged my students as you transported them to the smells and concepts of Renaissance England. Several students commented, "She was so interesting to listen to and passionate!" " I loved her, she wasn't boring!" "She was very unique and we really learned a lot!"

"The presentation was AMAZING! When I accepted, I was thinking, okay, how quirky is this going to be? It went far beyond my expectation. Explaining things with smells, visuals of the items and descriptions of life in the time of Shakespeare was extremely engaging... I even told my 11th grade colleague that he missed something truly good."

Three parts performance, two parts lecture, and one part show-and-smell, 'Hey! Who Barded in Here?!' can be tailored to fit any 45-80 minute session with learners from 5th-12th grade. It fits well into both classroom and theatre spaces, and requires only a table and a whiteboard. It can be shared with seasoned Shakespeare readers and with new or reluctant Shakespeare learners.

Stephanie Ann Foster holds an MA in Shakespeare Education through the Shakespeare Institute in Stratford-upon-Avon and an MFA in Children's Literature from Hollins University. She toured with a theatre-in-education company for four years during which time she taught and performed on both US coasts, in Canada, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau, Mainland China, the Philippines, and South Korea. Next she spent four years in the classroom as a credentialed British Literature and Theatre Arts instructor. She recently directed a youth production of Pericles at the American Shakespeare Center and is currently a Teaching Artist Fellow with the California Shakespeare Theatre; her passion is for making literature tangible.

If you would like to bring the smells of the Renaissance into your classroom, school, or regional theatre, direct queries to StephanieAnnFoster@gmail.com or call (510) 423-2913. Information is also available at www.StephanieAnnFoster.com.

Download Flyer

Read about the workshop in Teaching Shakespeare Magazine