If we shadows have offended,
Think but this, and all is mended,
That you have but slumbered here
While these visions did appear.
~ Puck, A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Transformed into an Elizabethan playhouse, the Black Box was the gathering place for seventh graders as they were introduced to several of Shakespeare’s notable characters, on-stage. Representatives from the Shakespeare Tavern visited MVPS to share their love of the English writer, playwright and actor.

Dressed in period costume, actor Dan Brown and actress Kirstin Calvert delivered lines from Hamlet, Twelfth Night, Romeo & Juliet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Macbeth and Taming of the Shrew, among others. Between the roles played – historical facts about Shakespeare’s life and work, exploration of the text and background information was dynamically presented to the students.

At one point, after the audience of students and faculty joined in to boo Caesar, Blake Heim commented, “That was so cool. We’ve never done anything like this and I like how it’s interactive.”

Students learned the difference between poetry and prose, the rhythm of iambic pentameter, and why stage actors position themselves in triangles as opposed to straight lines (it adds dimension and makes it more interesting for the audience).

At the end of the workshop, students were given an opportunity to ask questions. One student asked how the actors stay in the moment, while interacting with the audience. Another asked how the actors learn their lines, to which Kirstin answered, “I use an app called line-please.”

Actor Brown says of the young audience, “This may be their first introduction to Shakespeare, so walking in this morning I said – Let’s go change some lives!”

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