BYU students introduce Shakespearean to kids

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    By Annie Wong

    To change children?s misconception that Shakespearean plays are boring, BYU?s Young Company Shakespeare Troupe is performing 60-minute productions of ?Hamlet.?

    ?Our mission is to introduce Shakespeare”s plays to young students in a way that is comprehensible and exciting,? Clark said. ?We want children to learn early on that these plays not only apply to them but can be enjoyed by them as well.?

    The troupe performed mostly comedies in the past five years. Clark said this is the company?s first time to present such an emotional and difficult play to the children. He said he worried it may be too disturbing for the younger audience. But, he said their response so far has been fantastic.

    ??Hamlet? explores themes that in many ways apply to young children: jealousy, death, power plays and love,? Clark said. ?Many of the children who watch our plays have lost a parent, either to death or divorce. That”s what this play is about.?

    BYU graduate Matt Haws, who plays the role of Hamlet, said he found this performance challenging.

    ?[Playing ?Hamlet?] is fairly intimidating because it is such a famous role and has been done so many times before,? Haws said. ?But [the experience] is also very thrilling and exciting.?

    Haws said the biggest challenge is to keep the children focused on the play. The group tries to hook their attention by emphasizing on dramatic bits, he said, such as the ghost, the fighting scenes and Ophelia going crazy. Haws? strategy is to get the kids involved by making eye contact with them and talking to them.

    ?I love having the opportunity to tell kids that Shakespeare can be fun and anybody can enjoy it,? said Debra Moses, a senior from Blackfoot, Idaho, majoring in theater arts.

    Another actress of the play, Moses, said getting appreciative responses from the children is the greatest reward to their hard work.

    ?A kid wrote back to us, saying ?this is the way Shakespeare wanted it done,?? Moses said. ?It was really heartfelt.?

    The troupe performs 60-minute versions of Shakespearean plays once a week for elementary school children across the Wasatch Front.

    ?Every Tuesday we load up a van and take our show on the road,? Clark said.

    ?Hamlet? will be performed on campus Sept. 21-Sept. 24 at the Nelke Theatre.

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