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Upper School students perform scenes from William Shakespeare's "Hamlet"

Upper School students perform scenes from William Shakespeare's "Hamlet"

Upper School students in Dan Keefe and Thomas Stambaugh's English courses recently delivered impassioned performances of William Shakespeare's tragic play "Hamlet." 

As Stambaugh explained, "Those Sixth Formers spent the second half of the first semester reading and discussing the play as part of the 'English IV: The Individual and Society' course, where we study a novel, another play, various short nonfiction essays, and Ta-Nehisi Coates' 'Between the World and Me.' All of the texts navigate the tensions between the individual and the larger societal context in which they find themselves. With Hamlet, my students begin and end the play with performances that allow them to make a closer connection with the work and glimpse the decisions that might lift the scene off the page onto the stage (or screen). Normally, students report understanding about 80-90% of the 400-year-old Elizabethan language. After a few days' rehearsal, our classroom performance, and then a viewing of a professional filmed production of the final 200 lines, students generally say they understand every single word. Even more importantly, they understand the resolution of some of the play's fundamental questions: What are the consequences of deception? How does one come into oneself, within or outside the context of parental and societal expectations? How important is it for us that others know our story, our truth?"

Click here to view a slideshow of the performances >