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Classroom Happenings: All the World’s a Stage for These Middle Schoolers

The Steward School
Exploring Shakespeare by getting into character

Students in Mary Hopkins’ Seventh Grade English class recently took to the stage in the Cramer Center to perform several acts of Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night,” a romantic comedy. They were practicing their memorization and acting skills after reading “Twelfth Night,” one of Shakespeare’s most famous plays. Working in teams, the students had chosen four scenes from the play, which they rehearsed in class before this final assignment. 

“Shakespeare lived and wrote over 400 years ago, but we study him today at Steward, not only because he told fascinating stories with complex characters, but because of his facility with the English language,” said Ms. Hopkins. “Focusing on his words and working to understand their meanings teaches students to look carefully at language. By teaching Shakespeare, we teach students how to approach all literature with an eye for detail and an appreciation for the ‘just right’ word.”

Carson King ’27 enjoyed playing the role of Viola, a central character of “Twelfth Night” who disguises herself as a boy named Cesario. 

At first, he found Shakespeare’s humor somewhat difficult to understand, but he gained deeper knowledge about the Bard’s wit as the semester progressed. “Once I understood his humor, I realized he was very clever,” said Carson. 

Ellie Kersey ’27 took on the role of Toby, a quick-witted prankster. Acting out scenes from “Twelfth Night” — rather than just reading the play — gave Ellie the opportunity to tap into her creative side. 

Shakespeare’s language was sometimes confusing, she said, “but once we started to perform the scenes, I could understand it better. Toby is all about fun and pranks … he is a great character because he says such humorous things.” 

Ms.Hopkins noted that students can’t fully understand Shakespeare’s works “without getting out of their chairs and acting them out. Performances like this help students exhibit their understanding of the work. Plus, watching others’ performances helps their comprehension …and it’s fun!”

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