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“All the World’s a Stage” in Mrs. Collentine’s Shakespeare Survey Course

Kelly Arboleda, Writer

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Adolescents are among the many who fear Shakespeare. The Shakespearean language is very strenuous compared to the rudimentary rhetoric English that is spoken in “modern” America.

Mrs. Collentine, the Shakespeare Survey Honors English teacher, created a course that focuses on “the Bard–” Shakespeare himself, reading various comedies and tragedies throughout the semester-long course in order to change people’s minds about the difficult language and complex concepts that focus on human emotion and conflict. According to the seven students brave enough to enroll in the course, they firmly believe that the class has more to offer the student body than one may think.

Joseph Prendergast (‘18) states that “It’s a lot different than your regular English class. This goes more in-depth and it teaches you how to understand Shakespeare. It’s much different to experience Shakespeare than to read through it.” The class delves deeply into each play, focusing on the language through class discussion. Additionally, acting out the plays makes the students feel their part in the play and gives them the capacity to embody the characters and “feel what they feel,” allowing them to understand the characters and their motivations on an entirely different level. This class teaches the passion of Shakespeare and brings students a little closer to what would be performed at the Globe Theater.

Requirements for the course include acting out a skit from one of Shakespeare’s plays, which this year’s class performed in front of staff and students on Wednesday, January 24. The course’s main goal and final task is to act out a scene from just one play. However, this year, the students decided that they would learn (and overachieve) by performing three different skits in order to show New Milford High School that Shakespeare can be fun, entertaining, intellectual, and funny. This demonstrates that this wonderful interactive reading class is teaching students to understand difficult English language along with allowing them to have fun and grow a passion for the plays.

Mrs. Collentine states that “I chose acting to be part of the course because I wanted to show that the language is beautiful and to show that Shakespeare is accessible to everyone. I truly believe even a 9th grader can take this class and gain an appreciation for Shakespeare and love for language that will stay with them through their education and life.”

The class acted out parts of the comedy As You Like It. The first skit included a wrestling match between Charles and Orlando in front of Celia and Rosalind, which is very important because it depicts the prologue and demonstrates the main setting of the play, along with introducing the audience to Rosalind and depicting the sheer strength of Orlando. The second skit focused on the love story between Orlando and Rosalind. Lastly, the famous “Seven Ages of Man” monologue, often referred to as the “All the World’s a Stage” speech, discusses the cycle of life, reiterating the earnestness and solemness of what Shakespeare is also known for.

Some of these students had never performed on a stage in a front of a live audience before, a few were shaken up at the thought of it. Nevertheless, their confidence bristled as they stepped outside their comfort zones and created an enjoyable experience for all who attended. As senior Vano Arouch (‘18) stated, “For those who aren’t in the musical, it’s a once in a lifetime experience.” Mrs. Collentine adds that “I thought it was wonderful. It showed a lot of growth from kids I’ve known for years, even kids that I just met. I thought they had a lot of passion and you could tell they understood it and you could tell that they were having a good time. I was extremely proud of them.”

Students should take this class for a variety of reasons, but through Mrs. Collentine’s class, students can properly understand classic Shakespeare and potentially even have an extra in college-level English courses, which undoubtedly require the reading of a Shakespearean text. 

As Jade Torres (‘18) said: “Going into the class it seems daunting, but once you start to experience the language of Shakespeare and eventually start understanding it, you discover your own passion for it.”

 

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“All the World’s a Stage” in Mrs. Collentine’s Shakespeare Survey Course