The immortal bard, William Shakespeare, is alive and well at Elmira District Secondary School. The students from DJ Carroll’s drama class have earned a first-place finish at this year’s National Shakespeare Festival held in Toronto. The festival is a multidisciplinary arts festival held simultaneously at schools across Canada. Students select a scene from one of Shakespeare’s plays and develop it for the competition.
Students progress through a preliminary in-school festival to the National Festival weekend held May 14 in Toronto.
A group called Shakespeare in Action runs the event and this is the second year the festival has been held in Canada.
Six weeks ago, an adjudicator was sent out to EDSS to over see the scenes performed by the drama students.
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“He loved all our scenes and invited us all to come to Toronto to perform,” said Carroll.
“Usually schools have two or three scenes but we brought eight, which is fantastic for the kids.”
Throughout the festival, students are mentored by professional theatre artists and then during the national festival, the students present their work to a public audience, including three professional adjudicators.
“We had a chance to showcase our talents and out of that showcase one of our scenes won first place for all of Canada,” said Carroll.
Scholarships were handed out to students from different schools for the intensive summer program at Shakespeare in Action. There were eight scholarships offered to students at this year’s festival, of that eight, four students, Sam Lanesmith, Emeka Agada, Candace Kuepfer and Tyler Hackbart came from EDSS.
To top it all off, Carroll won the Shakespeare teacher-of-the-year award for the second year in a row.
“I got a double whammy this year, I won an award and my students came out on top,” said Carroll.
The students participated in workshops during the day, performed in the afternoon and in the evening were invited to watch the company perform A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
“They were invited to a show which was phenomenal for them because they got to work with the actors during the day and then watch them perform in the evening, it was a great treat.”
Carroll was proud of all his students that performed at the festival.
“This small school in Elmira is kicking some big city schools’ butts and showing off that we can perform in the arts.”