8th and 9th Grade Students Explore Shakespearean Drama

This night I hold an old accustomed feast,

Whereto I have invited many a guest

Such as I love; and you among the store,

One more, most welcome, makes my number more.

At my poor house look to behold this night

Earth-treading stars that make dark heaven light.

— Romeo and Juliet, Act I, Scene ii

 

It was an Elizabethan celebration for the 8th graders, who kicked off their study of Romeo and Juliet with the Capulet feast. Students designed masks to wear, learned Elizabethan songs and dances and feasted on treats during the feast, which is just one part of their Shakespearean immersion. After the 8th and 9th graders read selections from Shakespeare’s plays, they perform his work two productions in mid-March. Each class presents a different play in groups by scene, with guidance from Prep School English teachers Jennifer Bogart and Brian Pennington.

Each group is allowed to create their own unique rendition of their scene within the play. While students must respect Shakespeare’s original language, they are allowed to set their scene in whichever setting they’d like — for example, one scene from Romeo and Juliet can be set in a modern-day coffee shop on the Upper West Side. The next scene in the play, performed by a new group, could take place on the beach in Long Island.

 

To encourage and support those CGPS students who might be nervous in the limelight, Ms. Bogart and Mr. Pennington have invited two professional Shakespearean actors to coach the students on Shakespearean technique on March 6, 7 and 8. On March 13, the entire 8th grade will perform their interpretation of Romeo and Juliet for their classmates; on March 14, the entire 9th grade will perform their interpretation of Macbeth for their classmates.