Wherefore art thou?

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By Becky Cassell, Editor

I'll admit, it was a little odd to be talking Shakespeare with a class of third-graders. Especially since they knew more than I did.

I was a guest Monday of Becky Grant's third-grade class at Taylor County Elementary School. I was there to talk with the students about their performance the day before of Shakespeare's infamous tragedy, "Romeo and Juliet." And what a performance it was.

The children re-played scenes from the play for their audience of one and, believe me, it was most enjoyable. I particularly liked their portrayal of the death scenes and the kissing scenes. The death scenes must have been their favorites, too, with the enthusiasm they displayed.

When Tybalt (aka Tate Floyd) killed Mercutio (aka Lanie Hall) and, in return, Romeo (aka Andrew Powel) killed Tybalt, the kids showed me exactly how the "sword" made its deadly wound.

Next, Romeo and Juliet (aka Andrea Woodcox) showed me the secret to their "kiss." And it's a good thing there was a secret, because Romeo said the only way he'd have done it for real was if Mrs. Grant had paid him $10. And with all the practices, added to the performance, that would've added up to a pretty penny.

But above their acting skills, which were certainly tremendous, and the awesome costumes they wore, what impressed me the most were their explanations of the play.

Now Shakespeare is not the easiest of writers to interpret ... for anyone, let alone a group of 9-year-olds. But these kids had it down. They explained the whys and wherefores and they knew just what Shakespeare's words meant and how they were used.

Their excitement with the whole project was palpable. And it was contagious.

And what was even more amazing was that four weeks ago, these kids had never studied Shakespeare. In that time, the class learned about Shakespeare, read the play, held auditions for all the parts, memorized their considerable lines, practiced and performed the hour-long play.

As I was leaving, I asked Mrs. Grant how she planned to top this lesson. But she already has that covered. Next on the agenda is writing and illustrating their own hardback books before moving on to economics, complete with a mini-mall where students will have products and services for sale.

I won't doubt it a bit if there won't be some famous actors who got their start with third-grade Shakespeare.

Thanks, Mrs. Grant's class, Monday's private performance was a real treat ... a great way to start my Monday.