Betting on The Bard

“All the world’s a stage”

The works of William Shakespeare are a gift unto humanity, not just the English-language speaking world. The plays teach us how to love, how to scheme, how to dream, and how to change. Whether or not Shakespeare himself wrote the play Twelfth Night (performed this past Saturday by hundreds of kids from the DMV at Sidney Harman Hall) is irrelevant when it comes to what the play can teach us as humans in the world. Shakespeare Theatre Company’s program Text Alive! extends that Shakespearean gift to a group of young people and audiences that might not otherwise have the opportunity to receive such a gift.

“Merely Players”

Performing on stage in any capacity has the power to instill confidence in a young person for life. Take into consideration that many of the students who performed on Saturday had never performed before and you have a possible reversal in a person’s trajectory and self esteem. In my own group, there were a couple of students who had told me “I can’t (perform)” and yet there they were. These students committed themselves to doing something for the first time, and with any luck and determination, it won’t be the last. Last Saturday, they weren’t just merely actors in a performance of Twelfth Night, but playwrights re-writing their own script.

A Twelfth Night Trilogy

There’s a rule in writing and storytelling  known as the “rule of three” that states that anything in trilogy has a more likely impact on the reader than in pairs or alone. In the case of Twelfth Night, this Thursday will be the third iteration of the classic comedy my students will have seen or participated in just this year. We began with the Fall mainstage play, then a student performance last Saturday. Finally on Thursday we’ll culminate our involvement with Text Alive! by watching Shakespeare Theatre Company’s professional production of Twelfth Night on the very stage we performed at on Saturday. I certainly hope that by this time every one of my students will be able to closely follow the action of the play. Furthermore, seeing professional actors performing on the same stage as they did should make the experience of performing all the more meaningful and memorable.

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