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Enlivening the work of Shakespeare

Niki Patel, Staff Writer

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On March 3, 2016, JHS welcomed back to the stage actors from The Shakespeare Festival St. Louis Education Tour. The performance was brought through the generosity of the Jacksonville, Illinois Imagine Foundation. The troupe performed Hamlet, an acclaimed play written by William Shakespeare. The five actors – Caroline Amos (Hamlet), Aaron Orion Baker (Claudius/Polonius), Xavier Bleuel (Laertes), Faith Servant (Ophelia/Horatio), and Laura Sexauer (Gertrude) – did a phenomenal job. These actors mostly travel around St. Louis to provide students with a theatrical experience. Along with Hamlet, they are also performing A Midsummer Night’s Dream at selected elementary schools. Since both plays are extensive, the group is performing abridged versions. The JHS freshman class and members of National English Honor Society were invited. It was a gift that is very much appreciated.

Many consider Hamlet to be Shakespeare’s greatest play. Divided into five acts, the story line of Hamlet is an interesting one. Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, is visited by his father’s ghost, who charges his son with avenging his murder. Melancholy and a bit mad, Hamlet devotes himself to revenge, but at what cost? Family relationships, poison, betrayal, secrecy, and sword fights are in store in this exciting production of one of the greatest tragedies! The passion and drama was captivating from students’ perspectives. By seeing the visual aspects of the play, students were able to follow along a lot easier compared to merely reading the play. It granted students the opportunity to see the layout of a Shakespearean play and allowed them to consider learning more about it in their future educational career. It certainly is a way of opening up creative minds to endless possibilities in the world of literature.

Many students wonder why Shakespeare is so admired, so studied, and so loved. What is it about a long–dead poet and playwright that makes him such a notable element of contemporary culture? Shakespeare is important because he has made a significant contribution to English literature through his work on drama and plays.

Even though we associate Shakespeare’s plays with the 1500s, the themes are still something people can comprehend, despite the Shakespearean language. Hamlet’s theme was centered on justice versus morality. Alongside, love, relationships, friendship, jealousy, and power are still universal themes that apply in today’s world. It is critical to remember the legacy that exemplary writers, such as Shakespeare, have left behind in order to carry forward and honor the tradition of our English language, literature, and writing.

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Enlivening the work of Shakespeare