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The Globe Theatre and Connected North: Making History

- March 20, 2018 12:31 pm

“So here you are. On the Globe stage. One of the most famous stages in the world.”

As he walked onto the stage, the lights came up and for a moment it was quiet – actor Tom Daley gave the students a chance to react to the beauty of The Globe Theatre, in London, England. The children from John Arnalukjuak High School in Arviat, Nunavut, and Queen Elizabeth High School in Sioux Lookout, Ontario, reacted audibly as they watched him beckon from the stage. It was a moment I won’t forget.

This moment, and the many more that followed, were made possible through the Connected North program. Thanks to interactive, two-way video screens, students in Nunavut and Northern Ontario instantly travelled more than 5,000 km to the world-famous Globe Theatre. It was a look behind the veil of the Globe that few students – and adults – ever get to see.

Standing on the Globe stage, Tom gave the students a lesson on Iambic Pentameter, his voice booming throughout the empty theatre as he demonstrated the traditional haka dance he used to remember the Pentameter’s cadence. From Canada, the students followed.

“I am. Afraid. To think. What I. Have Done.”

As the students recited lines to each other in pairs, using the haka to test whether they followed the Iambic Pentameter’s format, it struck me that this was not an experience every student will receive. Even more powerful – these students in remote northern communities in Nunavut and Sioux Lookout cannot just get on a bus for a field trip to a theatre, or a museum, a science centre or aquarium. But through the magic of Connected North – they can now travel where ever they want. They can go to England. While many students may learn about the Globe Theatre and its reconstruction, and almost every student will learn about Shakespeare and his impact on literature, how many of those students do so by directly interacting with Globe actors? How many get to see the Globe for themselves, not just through pictures?

“I’m sure there will be more sessions with the Globe in the future, but there will also be sessions with museums, and cultural centres, and scientists, and other organizations that haven’t even been approached yet. And those, much like this one, will make a lasting impact on these students.”

As the session continued, students asked questions about the Globe’s history, design, and the meaning behind Shakespeare’s words. Then, to Tom’s delight, they showed him models of the Globe they created while researching the theatre. Viewing the models through his screen, Tom remarked that the students had captured the most significant elements of the Globe – its open roof and circular design. His comments brought smiles to the student’s faces, and some nervous laughter, too. The goodbyes soon followed.

This was the first Connected North session ever held with the Globe Theatre. TakingITGlobal, the Connected North program operator, worked tirelessly to make this one-of-a-kind educational experience possible for children in remote Indigenous communities. I’m sure there will be more sessions with the Globe in the future, but there will also be sessions with museums, and cultural centres, and scientists, and other organizations that haven’t even been approached yet. And those, much like this one, will make a lasting impact on these students.

It is for this reason that we are so committed at Cisco to the Connected North program. We want this program to expand into every school where it is needed – into every community where children can’t access the plethora of museums and resources available in urban centres, where children can’t imagine they’d ever become an astronaut, or marine biologist … or an actor.

Because as the Globe’s stage doors swung open to the awe of students and teachers, another door was opening as well. A door of opportunity, and possibility.

This is what Connected North can do. And I’m so proud to be a part of it.

Please consider supporting TakingITGlobal and help expand the reach of Connected North across Canada. Donate now.

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