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Students tackle Shakespeare

Menomonee Falls Theater Department puts on timeless comedy

Nov. 9, 2012

Menomonee Falls - Students at Menomonee Falls High School have stepped up and met the challenge of tackling a Shakespeare play for the theater department's fall production.

It has been more than 30 years since the high school has performed Shakespeare. Premiering at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 15 in the high school auditorium, N8101 Merrimac Drive, is the comedy "A Midsummer Night's Dream."

The play will be performed again at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 1:30 p.m. Sunday. Tickets cost $6 and are available at the door.

"It's a different style of show and it's funny, and for high school (students) to do a show like this is difficult, but I really believe that we are there to push them a little bit and stretch them beyond where they are and give them new challenges," said Mark Brooks, the play's technical director and producer.

Enjoying the Bard's language

The 30-plus student cast has accepted the challenge and is ready to bring the timeless story to life on stage. Not only have they perfected the language of Shakespeare, but they have begun to enjoy it.

"(Shakespeare) has been a challenge, but a fun challenge. I've learned a lot from it," said Sophomore Carley Kolsch, who plays Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons. "It took a while to get used to the different language but once I got used to it, it was a lot more fun than regular English."

"A Midsummer Night's Dream" is a comedy that takes place in the realm of Fairyland. There are three intertwining stories, all connected by the marriage of the Duke of Athens and the Amazon queen. When fairies intervene, entertainment and laughs ensue.

Understanding the diction used by Shakespeare is the biggest challenge when producing one of his plays.

"Shakespeare, I think, is vocally the most challenging for an actor," Brooks said.

Motion and emotion

To help the students overcome the challenge, play director Bill Jackson has worked with them every step of the way so they fully understand the meaning of the dialogue. Brooks has directed countless theater productions in high schools around the greater Milwaukee area, including "A Midsummer Night's Dream" at Milwaukee High School of the Arts.

He said when performing Shakespeare, it is important the students act with movement and emotion and do not simply stand on stage, reciting the lines. The students at Falls have achieved just that.

"They look terrific. I'm so proud," Jackson said. "It's a great challenge and these kids have picked up the challenge and everyone in Falls should come and see it."

Acting on stage is only one facet that has gone into production of the play. Students design the sets, work behind-the-scenes, run the concessions and ensure the performance goes on without a hitch. Jackson urges the local community to come out and support their hard work, as well as arts in schools.

"Any time kids get on stage, you should come support them," Jackson said. "When you do that, you're supporting curriculum and supporting growth and how often do you get a chance to do that?"

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