Magazine article Humanities

Making Movies from Shakespeare

Magazine article Humanities

Making Movies from Shakespeare

Article excerpt

Dozens of people run, walk, skate, or drive by, hardly glancing at the teenagers dressed in fifties attire reciting Shakespeare-loudly, at times-in the middle of Washington Park.

Maybe over the years they've seen plenty of amateur filmmakers make use of nature's studio. Or maybe they'd rather not know what the teens are doing.

"Ruffian! Let go that uncivil touch, thou friend of an ill fashion!" shouts J.W Victor, a senior at Springfield High School who is playing Valentine in Two Gentlemen of Verona. Not a jogger's head turns.

J.W and Springfield High seniors Cara Ring, Moein Khawaja, and Mike Kopec are completing a film project for their advanced-placement English class. Cara has created the costumes for the group, which is a little tricky since Mike is playing a woman and Cara is playing a woman who dresses like a man. "Do I look like a boy?" she asks, in her wool cap and argyle sweater.

They've even "hired" a cinematographer, sophomore Seth Fisher. Seth filmed two such projects last year, and he uses a steady hand and creative angles to make this year's effort stand out.

The five-minute movies were presented in the ninth annual AP English Shakespeare Festival, the brainchild of teacher M.J. Peters, who made it part of her class after spending the summer of 1992 at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival through a National Endowment for the Humanities institute for teachers.

After spending a month studying four plays, talking to actors and scholars, Peters says it transformed the way she taught Shakespeare; she now focuses more on performance. She takes the students to see a Shakespeare production in Chicago, an experience that many of them mention as a highlight of their academic year. And the films (although they also could be performed live in class) are fun-and hard work-for the students.

Some memorize all their lines, couplet by couplet. …

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