Guest Post: Teaching Artist, Keith McGill of Shakespeare & Hip Hop

Hi everyone!  I’m Keith McGill.  I’m working with Marie Acemah and Tayy Tarantino at McLaughlin School. Marie had the inspiration to do a residency about Shakespeare and Hip-Hop.  I’d like to say there was a long, exhaustive search to find just the right complement to Tayy’s genius, but actually Marie just Googled “Shakespeare” and “juvenile justice” and my name came up.  What a fortunate Google search that was for me.

I grew up and still live in Louisville KY.  Now Thanks to See Stories, I got to see the actual Alaska–six feet of snow, a moose in someone’s front yard. I am a teaching artist, actor, playwright, and stand-up comedian.  I’m so lucky that I get to do art for a living and I get to share the joy of creativity and art with young people–every day.

I became a teaching artist almost by accident.  After my first audition for Kentucky Shakespeare Festival (KSF), I didn’t get a role, because, by my own admission, I wasn’t very good. I did, however, get hired as an instructor for a summer camp. That was my first teaching and directing experience.  I’ve been teaching ever since–all types of theatre, but Shakespeare was first.

Through working with KSF, I was connected with Shakespeare Behind Bars (SBB).  Thanks to SBB, I get to introduce incarcerated adults and youth to Shakespeare, and use his plays to help the participants talk about how characters live the same lives as we do, just in a slightly different language.  Participants find it easier to talk about the emotions of Shakespeare’s characters, and that leads them to exploring their own emotional literacy.  My favorite moments are when people in class are surprised at how well they understand Shakespeare when they know the emotional place from which his characters speak. I love watching young people discover how brilliant they are. 

I will be forever grateful to See Stories and Marie Acemah for the serendipitous Google that brought her, Tayy and me together.  I’m thrilled to be working with the guys at McLaughlin and learning from them as much as they learn from me.

5 Facts about me:

  1.  I know just about every word to every Schoolhouse Rock video.
  2. I’m a pretty good freestyle rapper. (a fact I discovered recently…)
  3. I have comedy on cruise ships, several of which went to Alaska.
  4. I do yoga
  5. I won a car on WHEEL OF FORTUNE!

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