STAR Students

OMIGOD!!  We had the most amazing time recently, flashing Shakespeare for students from Watts and Boyle Heights at the Jefferson Elementary School in Paramount.  There were 160 students from 3rd, 4th, and 5th grades, and a better audience, I can't imagine.

They all sat on the floor of a multi-purpose room, the actors right in and among them.  The day was designated as Shakespeare Day, and the staff from STAR began the morning with an intentionally BORING lecture about the history of the Bard and England and Stratford-on-Avon and onandonandon.  Snore.

Suddenly, from the crowd on the floor, erupts a psychotic Richard III, waking up from his nightmare before the fatal Battle of Bosworth Field.  Michael Hanson, playing Richard, was just short of foaming at the mouth.  He crawled menacingly among the kids, snarling and crying, and they were appropriately MESMERIZED.  They gasped and giggled with wide eyes following his every move.

When he finished, and fell on the floor in restless sleep, Joe McGovern rose from the large crowd of kidlings, walking among them as though they were his brave soldiers before the battle.  Joe was playing Richmond who indeed brings Richard to a well-deserved end in that battle.  He commanded his troops of gradeschoolers, and they were enthralled.  In playing Richmond, McGovern has a regal presence that could command allegiance.  (I've thought, more than once, that maybe Joe should run for office!)

At the end of this speech, he and Richard ran for swords and clashed through a superb and shattering sword fight.  The kids cheered when Richard was killed.

Then it was their turn.  We picked volunteers to come up and learn the sword fight-----albeit with small, wooden swords.  When we asked for volunteers, 160 hands shot into the air.  They were all game.  After five or six pairs of fighters, we asked for volunteers to come up and draw from a bag------lines from the 2 speeches that Joe and Michael had performed earlier.

Again, all of them were eager to try this.  And many did, and got better with their second try at the line----the 2 actors coaching the kids as they tried on this new kind of language.

Whatever else we might be, never let it be said that Salty Shakespeare is boring.  If these kids had never heard of Shakespeare before, they have now!!

With a whallop!!!