Seventh-graders' original script takes the sting out of Shakespeare

April 30, 1991|By Winifred Walsh | Winifred Walsh,Evening Sun Staff

In the dark and dusty confines of a book store three 12-year-olds discover a magic folio containing the works of William Shakespeare given to them by the ghost of the Bard.

The three gradually discover the wonders of "Julius Caesar," "Hamlet," "Macbeth," "Romeo and Juliet," "The Taming of the Shrew" and "The Tempest."

The classic scenes are interwoven within a contemporary play focusing on reluctant students who are required to study Shakespeare.

The original play, "Shakespeare's Just Another Dead Guy . . . Or Is He?" was developed during a Center Stage Young People's Theater Playwrights-In-School program at Clarksville Middle School in Howard County. Playwright Steve Schutzman helped the students develop the theme and framework.

Funded by the Washington Post, the project is the result of the concern of Clarksville teachers that young people are intimidated by Shakespeare. "The language arts teachers at the school determined the need for some preparation in Shakespeare's works for the seventh-grade classes," says Annette Kuperman, gifted-resource teacher at Clarksville.

Eight students from the school's seventh-grade Gifted and Talented Resource Program were selected, based on their writing abilities and interest, to execute the project.

They are Jenny Cardy, Stacy Cowley, Jessica Henry, Lindsay Koshgarian, Amy Startt, Zach Tropf, Seri Zlatin and Taryn Zlatin.

"The students decided to write their own play in such an entertaining way that the rest of the children would not be daunted by the intricate plots and dialogue," says Kuperman. A videotape of the show will be available to other schools, she says.

"Publication of the play and a future performance at the Shakespeare Theater at the Folger are good possibilities," she says.

"Shakespeare's Just Another Dead Guy . . . Or Is He?" premieres at 7 p.m. tomorrow at the school, 6535 Trotter Road in Clarksville.

Those interested in presenting the student Shakespeare play can call the Gifted and Talented Resource Office of Clarksville Middle School, 313-7057.

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