Paul's Review of The Hobart Shakespeareans
How do you get kids hooked on education? Just one way is to teach them how to appreciate Shakespeare, and teach it the right way. The Hobart Shakespeareans is a documentary that can roughly fit into the category of inspirational tales of a teacher inspiring his students, but the methods that Rafe Esquith uses are something in themselves. While he's just one guy, the impact he's made on the lives of underprivileged kids in his classroom is undeniable. It's not the final answer to educations' many problems, but it does prove the point that some teachers ARE worth paying proper salaries to, and supporting them properly. Imagine what schools would be like with a dozen Rafe Esquiths in all subjects, paid a living wage? Well, you might wonder after seeing this excellent film.
The documentary follows Rafe Esquith as he takes a group of kids that are economically challenged, or are immigrants that would be destined for failure in many schools, and he turns them into - well, you have to see it. This isn't a slick, glossy documentary, but a behavioral essay on film.
Esquith sets the bar high by teaching the kids and getting them to produce the plays of Shakespeare as both a teaching, teamwork, and learning experience. He's simply an energetic guy that loves his subject, and obviously loves teaching. His message isn't revolutionary: You can make a difference, and that being nice, working hard and doing your best works. He really spends a lot of time with these kids, and lets them see another world beyond the neighborhoods they come from.
He's also teaching the right way, getting the kids to not just read things, but experience them. The clips of the performances don't do it justice, or show the amount of work that they put into these shows. The rich kids I know that go to theater camps are positively lazy by comparison. His success attracted the attention of some major stage and screen actors that give cameos in the film.
It's an inspirational story, well worth watching, wether you're a teacher, a parent, or a student.