"Th' milk of human kindness"
We love it when our alumni return home to ASL to visit, and recently Grade 9 students were honored to have the opportunity to take part in workshops with actor and fellow Eagle Michael Benz ’00.
Michael, best known for his TV appearances in "Downton Abbey" and London stage productions of “Hamlet," "The Tempest" and "As You Like It,” made his acting debut on the TV sitcom "Mike and Angelo" whilst in fifth grade at ASL.
Head of HS English Eve Ellis explained the reason for asking Michael to come and work with students, “Grade 9 study Macbeth every year, and we were looking for an opportunity to bring the study to life so that students could interact with the language in a physical way. Michael’s background as an actor and his passion for the language really shone through and inspired our students.”
Over the course of two days, Michael worked with students in small workshops, leading them through dramatic readings of Shakespearean sonnets and encouraging them to focus on the way the language and punctuation teaches how to read the text aloud.
The groups then took those same ideas and applied them to scenes from Macbeth, taking turns to volunteer to not only read the scenes, but also to understand, embody and enact the language.
Students commented that it was one of the best classes they’ve ever had, and were grateful for the valuable lessons and advice from Michael.
"Michael’s knowledge of Shakespeare from his time with the Royal Shakespeare Company, and his insight into the mechanics in interpreting a role through the analysis of lines, was an invaluable lesson for our students,” explained HS Drama Teacher Buck Herron. “His excitement, energy and passion for the art roused the students to become engaged with Shakespeare’s work and not to fear it.”