|Road-warrior Romeos and Juliets
Centre students take Shakespeare to Kentucky classrooms
RELEASED: Nov. 21, 2002
DANVILLE, KYIn January, Centre students traveled to London to see the Shakespeare play "Twelfth Night" on the same stage where it was presented in 1601-02. More than 400 years after the play appeared at Middle Temple Hall, some of those same Centre students are taking Shakespeare to classrooms throughout the state.
Twice a week this semester Anthony Haigh's Shakespeare Scenes class travels to elementary, middle and high schools and colleges to perform acts from Shakespeare's plays. Haigh is a Centre professor of dramatic arts.
"The entire experience has been very exciting both as actors and as Centre students," said Ian Frank, a junior from Terrace Park, Ohio. "As actors you always welcome the chance to do Shakespeare, especially in this kind of environment. Shakespeare's work is so deeply layered and universal that when done right it speaks to everyone from professors to elementary school students."
But Frank added that Shakespeare's work is not always easy to understand for college students, let alone elementary school students. Third-graders are the youngest age for which the group performs.
In the tradition of Shakespeare plays, Frank says he and his classmates stress participation, and they encourage questions.
"Ideally, this experience will spark interest and motivate others to learn more not just about Shakespeare, but any kind of theater. This is especially important today when art such as theater is less available and often ignored in the face of video games, television and movies. By taking theater to them, our class is hoping to encourage the next generation to take an active role in both attending and supporting the arts."
The class began the semester by studying some of Shakespeare's greatest works. After rehearsing, the group hit the road.
"We not only perform scenes for them," said Jennifer Rhorer, a senior from Frankfort, Ky., "we get the chance to teach the students about Shakespeare's life and times."
Tracey Antle, with the Gifted Education Program at Russell County Schools, was more than pleased when Haigh's class performed for a group of third-graders in Russell County. She has invited the Centre students back to perform for fourth- and fifth-graders.
"I was so very impressed with the group's knowledge and abilities," she said. "Your class really connected with our third-graders. If you can hold the attention of a large group of third-graders for one hour, you have really done something. The teachers and principal as well were very pleased with your group."
Haigh says this is the first time he has had a class do this type of activity, but it's been such a success and his students have received so much positive feedback that he's thinking of developing the project into a longer term program.
The class performed in Oldham and Owen counties this week.
The 12 students taking part are Brendan Adkins, Amanda Beverly, Leigh Brown, Mary Beth Browning, Melinda Crecelius, David Flora, Ian Frank, Alison Furlong, Alecia Gamm, Katie Lander, Jennifer Rhorer and Adam Watson.
To learn more about the Centre students traveling to London last year, go to http://www.centre.edu/web/news/shakespeare01.html.
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