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Shakespeare comes to Welches Middle School posted on 03/01/2018

Mistaken identities, murder most foul, a masquerade ball and a coven of witches; Thursday, Feb. 15 was not the typical evening at Welches Middle School. That night, seventh and eighth grade students offered performances of William Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing” and “Macbeth” as the culmination of a two-week artist in residence program that was part of the Right Brain Initiative.

“I was so proud of them,” said Kendra Payne, the school’s principal. “It was just really amazing to see them take it so seriously and be so excited about it and work so hard.”

For the program, which utilizes arts integration to help students link learning from one area to others, a guest artist helped seventh graders work on “Much Ado About Nothing,” a comedy about love and mistaken identity, and eighth graders with “Macbeth,” a tragedy about the rise of Macbeth to become the King of Scotland before his misdeeds lead to his fall.

Eighth grader Inanna Vognild had some acting experience from a summer camp she went to a couple years ago, but faced the challenge of playing both MacDuff and Lady Macbeth in the tragedy.

“I learned that it’s a lot harder than it actually seems, but it can pay off in the end, because it’s fun putting on the performance,” she said, noting that she had some familiarity with the play prior to working on it. “I was a bit nervous that I might end up missing a cue or something, but after the play a lot of people came up and said I did a good job.”

Seventh grader Sydney Brewster played Beatrice in “Much Ado About Nothing,” her first theatrical endeavor, and faced the traditional butterflies when the performance date arrived.

“I was nervous at first, then I started to get into it more and it became more comfortable,” Brewster said.

Abel Castaneda played a variety of roles in the seventh-grade show, including Benedict, Leonato and Claudio, but was ready for the show thanks to practicing with his sister at home.

“I was pretty nervous and I think I did pretty good,” he said.

This was the third full year that the school participated in the Right Brain Initiative, and Payne noted this year’s program helped give students a way to show a different side of themselves. She added that some kids who have shown signs of disengagement and apathy in the classroom were able to come out of their shell during their theatrical studies.

“That’s what we always want, to see the kids get engaged and excited about learning,” Payne said, adding that this was the first time that performing arts has been done at the Welches Schools “in a long time.”

The middle school will have a unit on Shakespeare later this year, and Payne believes the performances will help students get a jump start and be eager learners when it arrives.

“I think they’re going to be much more engaged with it and have a deeper understanding of it because of the work they’re doing now,” she said, adding that the elementary students also worked on Shakespeare plays but did not have a final performance.

Parents of the seventh and eighth graders came away impressed.

“I thought the kids looked like they were having a lot of fun doing it,” said Hans Vognild, Inanna’s father, adding that the evening had a positive feeling from the community support. “I think they did a really good job, especially considering they only had two weeks to prepare.”

“I think they did amazing and a lot of them tried to buy into their characters,” said Lidia Vento, Castaneda’s mother. “I was very proud of them.”

By Garth Guibord/MT




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