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The Panther Press

Shakespeare in the Courtyard

Jasmine Zhang, Managing Editor

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Some genius thought it would be good to let middle schoolers pretend they were under the influence of love potion. I present to you, Shakespeare in the Courtyard. A seemingly innocent activity that involves not so innocent shipping and scorning. It’s a club that meets daily, early in the morning, where middle schoolers are tasked with putting on a shakespearean play. This year, the play is A Midsummer Night’s Dream. There is an audition for the roles, but the only requirement is “emotion, even if it’s the wrong kind”. The club is co-headed by the Panther L.A. teachers, Mrs. Barr and Mrs. Kulik, and Mrs. Hollander helps out with her theater experience whenever one of the teachers are out. Poor Mr. Titus is the last Panther teacher remaining, for his infinite math wisdom doesn’t fit.


As suggested by its name, Shakespeare in the Courtyard’s only performance will take place in the courtyard. Thus, the club tries to practice in the courtyard whenever possible. Sadly, with factors such as lovely freezing and rainy weather, a feral mother goose, and a duckling invasion, the actors have to make do in the heartland of the Panthers, the pod. One of the actors, Reese, has even found his soulmate in there, the string attached to the pull down map in Barr’s room. It is one of his favorite pastimes in rehearsals to use his head to hit the wooden peg at the end over and over again, much to the confusion and amusement of other actors.


One of most magical parts of Shakespeare in the Courtyard is the transformation into different people. “Acting in general allows you to be something new”, says Mrs Barr. Elliott, viewed universally as the nicest person, passionately threatens to claw another actor’s eyes out. Aastha, who has been in PI+ ever since elementary school, confuses her senses and gets to wear a donkey head. Although most of the actors take on another character, their personality ends up shining through in their interpretation of the character too. The characters can vary person to person, whether the character be meaner, more sarcastic, or sweeter.


The club is not a commitment to be taken lightly. Actors are expected to memorize all of their lines, and put actions and emotions into them. There is no doubt that it is no easy task, considering the amount of stumbling and missed lines. But it isn’t the end of the world. “If you make a mistake, people are nice!” Elliott, who plays Hermia, noted. The supportive and borderline cheesy environment of the club can the embarrassing mistakes into funny learning experiences.


All of the effort of the teachers and students in the club will culminate in the final and only performance. The actors will be in full costume and makeup, complete with otherworldly makeup for the fairies, adorable animal costumes for Bottom and Snug, questionably complicated outfits for the noblemen, and gorgeous dresses for the noblewoman, and of course, Flute.
Of course, no play is complete with some magic. With a no regrets mentality, actors are free to leave it all out on the stage. The vulnerability that comes with the freedom is the true magic of play. “Seeing kids be successful and preserving makes magical spring night” remarked Mrs. Barr. “Keeps me coming back every year”.

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The student news site of Kennedy Jr. High School
Shakespeare in the Courtyard