Shakespeare and Bullying

To Be, Or Not to Be…An Upstander

Can William Shakespeare help convince children to stand up to bullies? Tamarra Nelson is proving that he can.

Tamarra is  the tour manager with the Shakespeare and Violence Prevention Program, a subsection of the Colorado Shakespeare Festival (CSF) Education Department. She’s using her skills as an English and Theater major (at the University of Denver) to bring professional actors to Colorado-based schools where they perform Shakespearean plays and facilitate violence-prevention workshops. 

The University of Denver’s website quotes Tamarra: “[The program is] centered around this idea of leaving behind a bystander identity and becoming an upstander. We teach kids that if they see a situation where a peer is getting bullied, they can step in to prevent harm rather than just being bystanders and watching it happen.”

Through the Shakespeare and Violence Prevention Program, students become more familiar with Shakespeare as they learn and practice bullying intervention strategies. CSF actors perform a play. In the workshops that follow the performance, students roleplay the characters’ responses to bullying.

The Shakespeare and Violence Prevention Program is currently virtual, so more schools can have access to it. So far, more than 112,000 Colorado students have participated. 

One comment

  1. This is awesome! I was bullied in school for six long years and it got so bad I attempted suicide at the age of 14 and almost didn’t make it. The bullying finally stopped when I switched schools during my senior year and I got to enjoy the second half of the 12th grade, and for that, I’m thankful. I’m so glad that bullying is finally getting attention because back when I was in school, everyone thought that it was just a normal part of growing up. Even then, I knew there was nothing normal about it.

    Now I use what I went through to help others who endure bullying today. I’m so proud of you for helping to bring awareness to an issue that still isn’t addressed enough. Wishing you a very happy and prosperous New Year!

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