Booker High School

On February 13, a group of 35 Booker High School creative writing students attended “Shakespeare in Love,” a production of the Tom Stoppard play, at the Asolo Repertory Theatre. The trip for them, and for the many fellow young patrons in the theatre that day, was made possible through the EdExplore Grant program that is funded by the Community Foundation of Sarasota County, The Patterson Foundation, and the Education Foundation.

For many Booker students, as well as students across the district, school field trips may be their only opportunity to see the high quality theatre and cultural productions Sarasota is famous for. BHS senior Kiley Cramer, who saw “Shakespeare in Love,” said the last time she saw an Asolo performance was for a field trip during her elementary school years.

“This show was so funny and engaging,” Cramer said. “But it was much more than entertainment. It conveyed the important message that love requires sacrifices.”

Cramer, who is currently writing her first full script as a Creative Writing 4 student, said the activities surrounding viewing the play have been beneficial to her as she dives into the process of scriptwriting.

Her Creative Writing teacher, John Timpe, echoed the sentiment that the activities and performance offered unique opportunities for his students that will illuminate aspects of the writing process.

Timpe noted that The Asolo provided scripts ahead of time for the students to read, enabling them to make important predictions and observations about the distinctions between the page and the play.

“It was important for my students to see how the words on a page become a performance. This helped them understand that a script is like a recipe from the playwright, what he imagines. Then the director takes the recipe, goes into the kitchen and makes a meal,” he said. is a web-based platform offered to district educators and area parents that compiles the best experiential learning opportunities available, and each “exploration” is carefully reviewed to ensure its content meets learning standards. The “explorations” offered are as varied as there are subjects to explore, from scientific adventures to arts and cultural exhibits, which bring students out of the classroom and into the real world.

Cramer said that one takeaway for her was realizing the importance of action to tell a stage story, while, as a new writer, she had been focused on dialogue. In many of the scenes, she said, the staging and action were more telling than words.

Timpe agreed, recalling a scene where stage lighting helped to emphasize the frustration of writer’s block.

“It brought an exclamation point to the scene,” he said.

Timpe said that one thing that struck him about the whole experience was how excited his students were to see the play, and he feels that the process of reading and analyzing, then witnessing a director’s take on the words will help his students become better writers.

“Experiences like these are so worth it,” Timpe said. “I can tell you exactly what the theater house was like when I went in grade school to see a play. These opportunities make an impression that will last a lifetime. These students will never forget this.”

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