Thespian Giving Play Passion to Students
The playâ€™s the thing for English Professor Roslyn Knutson. In her 43-year career with UALR, she helped develop thousands of drama fans through her engaging classes, but her lasting contribution to students is the Shakespeare Scene Festival. During this annual spring event, teachers from area middle and high schools bring their students to campus to perform the Bardâ€™s work â€“ usually with their own twist.
â€śWe love to get kids hooked,â€ť Dr. Knutson said. â€śThey bring the community into UALR â€“ into the education arena here. Through the Shakespeare Scene Festival, we inspire teachers and show students they shouldnâ€™t be intimidated by Shakespeare. This helps integrate them into the way our culture has been formed instead of alienating them. Itâ€™s about performance and language instead of testing.â€ť
To begin the festival, Dr. Knutson researched similar programs and attended numerous workshops and conferences. She created a course called â€śTeaching Shakespeare Through Performanceâ€ť and developed workshops on plays that are usually taught in high school. The first Shakespeare Scene Festival was held in 1998, and she has continued to teach the class and workshops for teachers incorporating new teaching strategies in her field of English Renaissance drama.
Dr. Knutson solicits campus support so that the Shakespeare Scene Festival continues to be held, free of charge, for all teachers and students. The event has grown significantly over the last 10 years to now include 15 schools and 700 students.
Dr. Knutson earned her bachelorâ€™s and masterâ€™s degrees from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville and completed requirements for her doctoral degree at the University of Texas at Austin. A former student honored her with the Roslyn L. Knutson Scholarship in English, and she has been named the Arkansas Teacher of the Year at the college level. She is a trustee with the Shakespeare Association of America and serves as treasurer of the Marlowe Society of America. Dr. Knutson is also a member of the Modern Language Association and Phi Beta Kappa.