There was a taste of culture at St. Augustine Catholic School last week as students not only watched William Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream but some also performed the play.
English teacher Pamela Guilbault applied to a grant with the Alberta Foundation of the Arts to help pay for the week. Theatre Prospero is part of the artist in residency programs for schools and actors in the group came to Ponoka from April 8 to 12 to get students comfortable with acting.
More than 40 students took part in the play April 12; some shared character roles to give everyone involved an opportunity to perform. Guilbault looked forward to seeing the play performed by the young actors.
“I find with all of my students, they just love Shakespeare.”
She feels the works of the playwright are best performed rather than read and this program helps young actors expand their knowledge and acting tools.
“This is just giving students something to experience they would not normally be able to,” she added.
Guilbault was excited to see company actors in the school as this was their first performance of the season and she believes they were eager to teach the kids. “The students are committed to the process.”
A typical class had the majority of students doing physical activities to make them more comfortable with performing while student actors worked on blocking and their lines. Chris de la Cruz is a technician with the company and he also taught four students lighting techniques. He gave them an opportunity to perform their own play with and without lights to see how that can affect a scene.
Liz Hobbs is another company actor who enjoys the interaction so she “can get kids excited about Shakespeare.”
Working with young actors is also an opportunity to develop their confidence. The biggest challenge they have is being able to put on a smooth transition with so many young actors. Her focus becomes more on the students than herself.
“It ceases to be about you as an actor,” said Hobbs.
Miranda Allen is another company actor who has gained valuable experience working with students. She helps them find those acting tools needed to perform well. Allen uses those same tools in her own acting. “It’s really satisfying.”
The school was given an afternoon performance of the play April 12 while parents were able to see an encore presentation in the evening.