Snow White meets Shakespeare in Academy’s playwriting project

Jeffery Allen, executive director of the Center for Lifelong Learning, (bold below) has been working with students on theatre projects at the Academy for the past three years.

The Herald-Times
By Mary Keck 331-4353 | mkeck@heraldt.com
Posted
: Tuesday, December 17, 2013 12:41 am

Tragedy struck the Academy of Science and Entrepreneurship on Monday, and it came in the form of puns and rhyming couplets.

Sophomores in Claire Roth’s world studies class performed original plays based on popular fairy tales, and each had a Shakespearean twist. For example, one group of seven students acted out “Much Ado About Ariela,” a variation of “The Little Mermaid” that doesn’t end as happily as the Disney version. Instead, Ariela drinks poison, and as a result, her heartbroken father, King Triton, falls to the floor.

“My heart shatters, and I die,” cries King Triton as he dies in dramatic style. He was played by Dominic Lettsome-Martin, who wore a long, gray beard, a black bathrobe and a jeweled golden crown to look the part of merperson royalty.

As in playwright William Shakespeare’s tragedies, the sophomores created tales with mistaken identities, love triangles, struggles for power and dramatic deaths in which all the most significant characters die in the end as a result of suicide or murder. To complete the project, they wrote scripts, memorized lines and acted their plays out in costume before a panel of four judges.

Reflecting Shakespeare’s productions at the Globe Theatre, Emma Griffith played two characters: Lucifer and Dopey, the dwarf, in “Snow White.” In place of Sneezy, there was a dwarf named Sleazy, played by Tristan Carney, and another dwarf named Bloody, acted by Cameron Doyle. Not a single dwarf made it out of the play alive, nor did Snow White or the Huntsman.

“I curse thee, Sleazy, slayer, coward, murderer of kin,” Bloody cried as he pierced his own heart with a knife at the end of the play. “Knife, quench thy thirst!”

Doyle said he enjoyed the freedom his group was given to create the play, because “we got to be ourselves.”

Carney said, “I had a great time with this project.” When he found out about the assignment, he was excited to try his hand at writing in the language of Shakespeare. His role in the group was to work iambic pentameter into the script.

Griffith said, “The hardest thing is just the language. I thought I was never going to understand it.” Now that she’s memorized rhyming couplets and changed words such as “you” to “thou,” Griffith isn’t quite as intimidated by Shakespeare’s work as she was when Roth first introduced the project.

Once they got past the language, the students discovered the 16th century writer was pretty talented. They admired his use of puns and double meanings.

With a laugh, Carney said, “Shakespeare tells a lot of dirty jokes.”

Despite the tragic elements of the students’ plays, they drew a lot of laughs from their audience full of fellow students and parents. In “Much Ado about Ariela,” Jordan Brickert drew chuckles from the crowd when he took the stage in a blond wig for his role as Ursula. In Shakespeare’s time, male actors regularly played the female parts.

Roth said she assigned this project because “this way, kids hold on to it more. They must experience it, and they must put their knowledge into practice.”

Not only do the students learn about Shakespeare’s plays, they also learn about collaboration. Roth’s 28 students were grouped into four acting troupes, each with seven members.

She said, “It really forces students to work together, regardless of differences they may have in opinion.” Among their acting troupe members, the students had to be creative while sticking to a timeline and managing their own projects.

Roth expects the work they’ve done in class to aid students in the future. “It prepares them for today’s workplace. A lot of people are given projects, and they have to work together to create a product.”

For the group of actors who performed a tragic version of “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” cooperating as a team was the best part. “Working with a group was really fun,” said Sarah Small, who played Snow White. “I liked our group.”

Griffith said collaborating with others taught her the importance of communicating. She said, “If it’s not done, it’s going to fall apart.”

The atmosphere of collaboration wasn’t limited to the students of the Academy of Science and Entrepreneurship, however. Roth worked with history teacher Pam Gunkel to immerse the students in Elizabethan England. In addition, Jeffery Allen, the executive director of the Ivy Tech Center for Lifelong Learning, helped get the students comfortable with acting.

“What a great fusion of history, literature and theater,” Allen said. He has been working with Roth’s students for the past three years, and felt this year’s class had pulled off the best plays yet. From his seat at the judge’s table, Allen felt the students “knew they were doing something unique and amazing.”

 

'Snow White' play at Academy

Tristan Carney, left, playing Sleazy, chases Sarah Small, playing Snow White, Monday in the play titled “Snow White,” which was written by students at The Academy of Science and Entrepreneurship in the style of the famous English playwright William Shakespeare. Jeremy Hogan | Herald-Times

 

'Much Ado About Ariela'

Cece Pedro, left, plays the Prince and Olivia Stewart plays Ariela Monday in a fairy tale play titled “Much Ado About Ariela,” which was written in the style of William Shakespeare by local high school students at the Academy of Science and Entrepreneurship. Jeremy Hogan | Herald-Times

'Red'

Tyson Schultz, right, playing the wolf, kills off Red Riding Hood’s grandmother, played by Jake Deboer, in the fairy tale play titled “Red,” which was written by students at the Academy of Science and Entrepreneurship in Bloomington.

Rabbit character

Jeremy Hogan

Rabbit character

Markus Peterson plays the rabbit in the fairy tale play titled “Red,” which was written by students at The Academy of Science and Entrepreneurship in Bloomington. Jeremy Hogan | Herald-Times

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