"shakespeare to go" a hit

March 11, 2011

“Shakespeare to Go” performed an hour-long version of Romeo and Juliet before a spell-bound and delighted assembly of seventh –twelfth graders in the New Gym Wednesday morning, March 9.  Seven professional actors from High Point’s North Carolina Shakespeare Festival gave students the opportunity to observe and participate in a live performance of the Bard’s work. With minimal scenery and in contemporary dress, the actors encouraged audience attention and imagination by their performing multiple roles, some of which crossed genders, and by incorporating modern music into scenes. What remained was Shakespeare’s language, which was true to the original even though abridged in length. The audience learned that the language of Shakespeare is no obstacle when skillfully rendered by actors in a play that was meant to be seen and heard.

“This was the most valuable assembly we’ve had here in a long time,” said a science teacher who admitted that when in school “English was not my thing.” However, she loved this performance and said her advisory group did, too.

The absence of scenery, period costumes, special lighting or microphones reflected the way Shakespeare’s own acting company would have performed the play, explained one English teacher. So was the gender-bending, for women had been played by men during the Elizabethan era.

The actors conducted hands-on workshops third, fourth and fifth periods for groups of thirty students each period. Free-flowing discussions and impromptu acting by students made these sessions hit a high note with participants.

About 180 students were actively involved with Shakespeare’s work due to this visit by “Shakespeare to Go.” This opportunity was made possible by a grant from the Arts Council of Fayetteville and Cumberland County. The application for the grant began in the first week of September, coordinated by Dr. Ted Ray at the Academy and Elaine Bryant Hayes of the Arts Council, and required an explanation of the relevance of the artists’ visit to the school curriculum, as prepared by Rebecca Ganjehsani, English Department Chair. Since Shakespeare’s dramas are studied in four grades (eighth, ninth, tenth and twelfth) at Fayetteville Academy, the school was pleased its grant application was approved.

 

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