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Shakespeare on Screen: English Classes Take the Bard’s Work Online

Ryan Quinn, left, and Katie Hartke, right, perform the famous balcony scene from “Romeo and Juliet.”

Originally published on May 15, 2020, by MastersNY.org

But soft! What light through yonder computer screen breaks? It’s “Romeo and Juliet” performance workshops with professional actors from The Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival (HVSF)!

This week, HVSF veteran actors Katie Hartke and Ryan Quinn met with ninth grade English students, who recently completed their formal study of the play, and performed two versions of the famous balcony scene. The actors, a married couple, performed in their living room and then led students through talkback discussions of the differences the students noticed between the two versions. The actors also engaged students in their own collaborative rendering of the scene.

“Both the HVSF artists and our students did a fantastic job and really listened deeply for cues,” English teacher Stacy Van Beek said. “Watching the bursts of poetry and movement cascade seamlessly across my Google Meet grid was pure joy. We are now jazzed about finding unconventional ways to ‘perform’ some Shakespeare in our final weeks.” Fellow English teacher Lisa Green noted that students took away helpful information about performing the Bard’s work: “The students learned to make specific and very deliberate choices when performing their lines. They also learned how to physicalize what the actors called the ‘power word’ in a given line: That is, the noun or verb that drives the emotion and gives the line its ‘juice.’”

The Masters School English Department has worked with HVSF for many years and was delighted to be able to continue the tradition in this new online format this year.

Learn More About HVSF’s Online Education Programs