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"Shakespearean Actors Emerge"
at North Hero School
With guidance provided by members of the Vermont Shakespeare Company, North Hero 7th and 8th graders were acting in scenes from The Merchant of Venice by the end of a full day workshop April 3rd.
The students had studied the play with their Language Arts
teacher Jan Clements. The day began with a scene acted by professional
actors Aidan Koehler and John Nagle. Students then participated in a session
on physical movement which is an important skill needed by actors.
The Acting Company's visit was sponsored by Island Arts and Vermont Arts Council. Outreach in the arts to young people is emphasized in the mission statement of both Island Arts and Vermont Shakespeare Company.
Information about William Shakespeare, his times and familiarity with his plays was interspersed throughout the day. North Hero's 7th and 8th grade classes saw Julius Caesar and Romeo and Juliet last year.
A game of "Will of Fortune" with questions related to Shakespeare and his plays was won by Steven Best, a North Hero 8th grader and Dallin Garriety, a North Hero 7th grader. Each boy wore his prize of a Vermont Shakespeare Company T-Shirt for the afternoon activities.
After lunch the students participated in a mask workshop with Company Artistic Director Jena Necrason. This activity was quite a sight with students in the gym portraying the character of their masks for each other. Feathers, pointed noses and strange foreheads were among the mask characteristics. Math/Science teacher Bill Oetjen helped supervise and took many pictures.
The day ended with the students in three different groups working on the same scene. One group performed it as a comedy, one as a tragedy and one as a romance. Vermont Shakespeare actors worked with each group.
The students dressed themselves from Company costumes including wigs, beards, dresses and baggy pants, This required ingenuity and a willingness to take risks since, as in Shakespeare's time, males played both male and female roles. The students then successfully performed the scenes for each other.
Vermont Shakespeare's Executive Director, John Nagle said "What was really encouraging was the excellent behavior of the students and their willingness to spend a full day in an artistic endeavor. These young people are a credit to their school community."