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Students participate in Shakespeare workshop

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Local children exposed to The Bard

By Ron Benningfield

LaRue County gifted and talented students discovered that the best way to appreciate great writers such as William Shakespeare is to watch professional actors perform his works and, better yet, take part in the plays themselves.

On Jan. 12, Dathan Hooper and Abi Van Andel with the Shakespeare Festival of Louisville conducted a workshop at Abraham Lincoln Elementary for third-, fourth- and fifth-grade gifted/talented drama and language arts students from Hodgenville Elementary School and ALES in the morning and for LaRue County middle and high school GT students at LCHS in the afternoon.

“The company has been performing for our schools for years,” said Karyn Brey, reading teacher at HES. “The students thoroughly enjoy them and always request them back.”

While the elementary students sat in a circle, the actors performed scenes of A Midsummer Night’s Dream in the middle of the circle. 

“All of the students chanted lines and learned to use body language as the actors randomly pulled them out of the audience to perform,” Brey said.

In the second hour, the students divided into two groups of 25 for Bard Buddies workshops. Here, the students wore costumes and acted out scenes while learning about the importance of props and costumes. Every student had a part.

During the afternoon performance for the six-12 graders titled Staging Shakespeare, the two professional performers acted out scenes from several of Shakespeare’s plays, stopping in between to explain the significance of the costumes, background information, and body language, while doing quick costume changes.

In afternoon workshops, both the middle school and high school students worked closely with the performers and showed their acting ability and creativity.

Those workshops made quite an impression on the students.

Emma Bowling, an HES fourth-grader, said, “It was really fun because we got to learn how it feels to be a real actor. I learned that Shakespeare wrote many tragedies and all of his actors were men because women were not allowed.”

HES fifth-grader Destiny Gaddie also observed that actions can speak louder than words.

“I learned that by using your voice, hand gestures and facial expressions you can ‘become’ a character,” she said.

“We did a scene from Shakespeare’s Macbeth,” said eighth-grader Abby Campbell. “I got to choke and faint, and we even did a rap for the first line of our very own made-up scene.”