Musical `Macbeth' on Sandymount stage


April 28, 2002|By Lisa Breslin | Lisa Breslin,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

SANDYMOUNT Elementary School's fifth-grade class performed a version of Shakespeare's Macbeth last week that offered more entertainment than most audiences would bargain for.

It had classic Shakespearean elements such as conniving friends, sword fights, and dramatic death scenes. Witches brewed entrails (cooked spaghetti) and thumbs (hot dogs), tongue of dog (bologna), and an eyeball (fake) in their cauldron and chanted "Double, double, toil and trouble." There also were elaborate costumes and ominous sets.

To accommodate the growing number of students who wanted to take part in this year's play, Sandymount's version of Macbeth included new scenes and songs.

Students sang "Do You Hear the People Sing?" from Les Miserables. Emily Selsky sang "Heather on the Hill" from Brigadoon. Amanda Rhein sang "One More Time."

And the Irish group Wherligig (Ken, Stephanie and Ryan Koons), accompanied the lords and ladies who danced around a maypole.

After three months of rehearsals and hours of coaching and consoling by the directors - Andy Yount, guidance counselor; Karen Boggs, media specialist; and Susan Thornton, a parent volunteer - the pupils pulled it off. They earned a standing ovation on Tuesday's opening night, and on the next night as well.

"I went through phases of being excited, then nervous, excited, then nervous all night," Jessica Reese, who played Lady Macbeth, said after opening night. "It was fun to watch how everything came together."

"Acting is fun; you get to become a character that you just don't get to be every day," said Megan Fisher, who portrayed Macbeth.

A few weeks before their performance, some cast members journeyed to Center Stage in Baltimore and won top honors at the Shakespeare Festival. Last year's fifth-grade cast performed excerpts from Hamlet and also won top honors.

"Center Stage was a great opportunity," Yount said. "It was set up like a theater in the round, and the students got to see what it might have been like to perform during the Elizabethan times."

This is the third year that Sandymount has tackled Shakespeare for the fifth-grade production. Each year more and more students want to participate in the fifth-grade play. Each year a handful of sixth-graders who have fond memories of their drama experiences at Sandymount come back to help out.

All these pupils say they like being with their friends, but it's really the directors who inspire them. Many parents echo these sentiments.

"When we first started, most of us had no idea about anything about Macbeth," said Tommy Terrell, who played MacDuff. "It's amazing what [the directors] taught us in a short time. At the end of every practice Mrs. Thornton gave us cast notes and individual notes, and considering there were more than 60 kids in the play, that's a lot of notes. She was amazing."

Yount often found pupils during recess. With plastic swords, he taught them basic fencing moves such as parrying, blocking, advancing and retreating.

He wrote new scenes, some in verse form, not only to give more children speaking parts and to give more context to a complex play, but to also highlight that Macbeth made poor choices - choices that strayed from the behaviors taught in the character education program at Sandymount.

"The students run every aspect of the play, from lighting to stage crew, sets - everything," he said. "We try to sit back. Teamwork - that is the ultimate lesson that they learn."

"It is so rewarding to see so many kids blossom," said Thornton, who continues to help with fifth-grade plays even though her son graduated from Sandymount two years ago. "This cast handled everything well; I held my breath for a while, but they came in on time, they focused, and made their exits smoothly. Seeing their excitement keeps me coming back."

School time capsule

Ten years from now, pupils at West Middle School will unearth a time capsule buried by this year's sixth-graders. They'll find mementos that celebrate life in middle school and this year's popular books. They'll also see poignant reminders of the tragedies that rocked the nation Sept 11.

This is the first year that West Middle School pupils have buried a time capsule. The idea came from a pupil during a field trip to an archaeology museum in Philadelphia.

"While we were looking at the mummies, one student said, `If people dug up something about me 100 years from now, I wonder what they'd learn about me?'" said Karen Myers, a language arts teacher who led the project. "That one comment blossomed into a whole time capsule unit."

Buried near the gazebo is a 2-foot-by-2-foot plastic container holding a scrapbook of the year's activities as well as collages, poems and banners commemorating everything from Harry Potter to the pupils' reflections on Sept. 11. There is even an agenda book with homework assignments noted up to the date the time capsule was buried.

"The reward comes with the students' enthusiasm about this project," Myers said. "They are already asking which teacher will be sure that students remember to dig up the time capsule in 10 years."

Living Treasure

Karen Millar, president of the Westminster marketing firm Syncopated Concepts, honors Chad Kellner of Westminster as her Living Treasure this week.

"I always joke that he is my Bank of Chad, because he supported me financially when I started a new business," said Millar. "But more importantly, he supports me emotionally, too. He even puts up with my quirkiness."

Who is your Living Treasure? Brighten someone's day by submitting his or her name to: Lisa Breslin, 35 Ridge Road, Westminster 21157. Or call 410-848-4703.

Lisa Breslin's Central Carroll neighborhood column appears each Sunday in the Carroll County edition of The Sun.

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