JUNE 23, 1997
Students at Kokanee Elementary perform Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream in the school's outdoor amphitheater. Costumes ranged from fairies to maidens to a donkey head.
Photo by Mina Hochberg/Northwest News.
by Mina Hochberg
Students seated themselves in the outdoor amphitheater and looked down upon an almost bare stage. Two ivy-entwined pillars framed centerstage, with natural trees and foliage as a backdrop. More students filed in as Elizabethan music welcomed them to Kokanee Elementary's production of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream.
A cast of approximately 50 students from grades three through six put on four performances of the play last week for students, staff, and family. They had been rehearsing two to three times a week for the last six weeks. Librarian Joanne Hjort, a former Bothell High School drama teacher, directed the cast.
"Her [Hjort's] attitude is that when you're this age, you have less inhibitions," said librarian Ruthie Gibbs, who helped put the play together.
Hjort said this was the first acting experience for a number of the cast members, but that their confidence built with each performance. "This gives them a great sense of accomplishment to do something difficult," she said. "We sometimes underestimate children's abilities."
The production was the first Shakespeare play Kokanee has performed. Although Shakespeare's plays may have the reputation as being difficult literature, Hjort said children at this young age "don't have feelings one way or another about Shakespeare." She explained that the plays were meant to be performed, and that acting a Shakespeare play rather than reading it gives children a less intimidating introduction to the playwright.
"I think they all understood what's going on in the play," Gibbs said.
The script was an hour-long version of the play adapted for a younger audience.