The Grade 8 Language Arts teachers received a grant award to bring a June 2012 performance of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" to MJS. Prior to the performance, the students read the play and acted out scenes in class. Here is what they had to say.....
From the teachers...
"The Shakespeare LIVE! production, made possible by MEF's support of our grant request, really helped our students achieve a much deeper understanding of the text and a greater appreciation for Shakespeare's works, which was our ultimate goal. The overwhelming majority of students reported that it was their first time seeing a Shakespeare production, and many commented that it was their first time experiencing any theater performance (outside of school plays). We are very grateful for your support which makes this kind of cultural enrichment and lasting learning possible."
From the students (a few of dozens of comments the teachers forwarded)
"Watching 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' made me realize how much fun Shakespeare can be." ~Nick C.
“Seeing the actors express the characters’ emotions in ways that you don’t understand just from reading really brought a nice touch to the story and the experience of studying. … I do think all eighth graders who are reading the book in school should be given the opportunity to see the play. It really gives a clear understanding of what’s happening in the story and can be valuable for some kids who maybe get sidetracked while they read or have a tough time. I know it helped me a lot.” ~Alyssa D.
“While reading a play, it’s just words on a page, with no facial expressions or varying levels of voice. Seeing the play made it easier to understand the conflict. My favorite part was Act V because of the humor – it was really funny. The actors who played the actors did a good job of making themselves and Peter Quince’s play seem very bad. The physical humor came through when we saw it performed (which I didn’t really get while reading). I think this would be a valuable experience for future students.” ~Liam B.
"The day we started the Shakespeare unit, I thought I would hate it and wouldn't understand it. I was confused at parts, but after working through the book in class and acting out the scenes and then seeing it from beginning to end onstage, I started to enjoy Shakespeare's work and understand it." ~Hallie W.
“Whatever I imagined about the play was nothing like the play I saw today. Everything was wildly different – from the set designs to the costumes to how the characters looked. Surprisingly, this was what I liked most about the play. This unique interpretation was very fun to watch…Aside from being very entertaining, the performance helped me understand the relationships between characters and all that happened to those relationships as a result of the love potion. I think every future eighth grade should see this performance. It really helps solidify an understanding of the plot and characters. It is also a great and exciting way to end the Shakespeare unit!” ~Caroline K.
“The performance...was great. When I first read the book, I was very confused because I can barely understand normal English, and then to try and understand Old English was extremely difficult. I better understand things when I hear them. These actors made it easy to follow because they acted and spoke in a sort of rhythm which I could understand and follow…I can truly say that if I didn’t see that play, I would not have understood the book. It put everything together for me.” ~Nick L.
“Seeing this play was a privilege and I hope that future classes get to see it too. Like me, there are many visual learners and it helps them understand it a lot better…All of a sudden, I ‘got it’ and I was able to follow the play and all the complicated language. It was great!” ~Ben M.
“Seeing (this performance) made me realize that some of the things Shakespeare wrote were actually really funny!” ~Desta J.
“The story was much clearer onstage. The language sounded strange while reading, but it was so much easier to understand when it was acted out onstage….the final scene with Quince, Bottom and the play within a play was confusing in the book. Seeing it performed was much more comical and understandable. Watching the play live is a million times better than just reading the book alone......” ~Nick J.
“This performance made me less scared to approach Shakespeare because it shows that Shakespeare can be fun and easier to understand than I thought.” ~Casey M.