Page 6 THE VILLADOM TIMES III • February 18, 2009 Ho-Ho-Kus Students draw lessons about identity from Shakespeare by Jennifer Crusco Seventh grade students at the Ho-HoKus Public School recently explored the theme of identity as presented in a trio of Shakespearean plays. Teacher Jennifer Bryant explained that the Shakespearian residency program has been running at the public school for multiple years. This year, Bryant worked on the program with her fellow educators Caroline Richards, Susan Solomon, Karin Frassetto, and Gina McCormack, and artist in residence Stephen Davis from Midtown Manhattan’s American Globe Theater. Bryant said Davis was intrigued by the students’ work with the theme of identity and deftly selected pertinent parts of three Shakespearian plays for the students to perform. “He sat down with us and cut together scenes from three plays – ‘Twelfth Night,’ ‘The Winter’s Tale,’ and ‘The Comedy of Errors.’ He chose the seminal scenes regarding the theme of identity,” Bryant said. Davis is a freelance director, teacher, fight choreographer, and adjunct faculty member at Kean University. He has directed educational tours for the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey and for Kean University. He holds a bachelor of fine arts degree in acting from the Theatre School at DePaul University and a master’s in fine arts in directing from USC. Twice a week for four weeks, Davis helped the students familiarize themselves with Shakespeare’s Elizabethan English, and learn their roles for their performance, “Storms of Identity,” which was presented in the school auditorium last week. The program for the presentation states, “Shakespeare was a master at writing poetry and plays for the masses. Much of his work deals with people who are playing with different identities. Many of his characters have different roles. Boys can dress as girls or girls can dress as boys and characters are not always who they seem to be. “Shakespeare’s work teaches us that life is about not being exclusive or putting people into boxes…Life is a mystery and we’re the detectives. Give us time, support us with love, and talk to us about your experiences. That way we will be able to discover that mystery of life together. See, support, and talk us through the storms of our identity.” Bryant added, “(Davis) allowed the students to become comfortable with their own identities.” She noted that Davis showed the students the folio technique. The students worked with versions of the plays that are believed to be unmodified, and are, therefore, the closest to what Shakespeare wrote. Bryant noted that Shakespeare’s texts gave the actors clues about how they should act, so even the least educated actor could perform a role. The students then wrote their own narration to begin and end the show. “I think that the program was most successful, not because of the students’ stellar performances, but because each student was allowed to shine. They literally learned about their own identities through studying Shakespeare and what he had to say about identity.” The students who participated in the Students and faculty celebrate after last week’s presentation. program apparently enjoyed their opportunity. According to Olivia Blute, “The residency program not only taught us a lot about Shakespeare, but really let us learn a lot about our theme of identity while still making strong relationships with the actors and our director, Stephen.” “I thought it was fun because you got to act and work with Stephen, who has a funny and exciting personality,” program participant Alejandro Onorato added. Jonathan Rubenstein said, “It was a great new experience for me and everyone else in the grade.” “I liked the residency because Stephen influenced us and encouraged us to learn Shakespeare,” Darci Collins noted. Those who witnessed the students’ work also commented on the value of the program. Principal Alexis Eckert said, “The students completed a most outstanding presentation. I was particularly impressed with the connections students made between Shakespeare and their own middle school experience.” Funding was provided by the Ho-HoKus Home and School Association and the Ho-Ho-Kus Education Foundation. The Ho-Ho-Kus Education Foundation’s Annual Auction Gala and Dinner Dance will be held on Saturday, Feb. 28 at the Park Ridge Marriott. The theme for this year’s event is “Celebrating the Fine Art of Education.” The gala is the education foundation’s primary fundraising event of the year, with all proceeds from the auction funding a Foundation schedules fundraiser variety of teacher-requested grants and school-wide initiatives. The foundation is currently seeking tax-deductible auction items and cash donations to help fund these grants. The Ho-Ho-Kus Education Foundation has awarded over $750,000 in grants since its creation in 1992.Contact Nan Norbitz Kelly at (201) 314-7361. ��������������� � �������� ����������������������������������������� ���������������������������������� ���������������������������������� ����������������������������������� ���������������������������������������� �������������������������������� ����������������� ��������������� CHECK OUR WEBSITE ���������������������������� ����������������� ��������������������� ���������������������������� ���������������������������� ����������������� ���������������������������