The young pair, much like Romeo and Juliet, were separated by their parents and endured an eventual tragic death in each other’s arms.
In Morgan Langtimm’s sixth grade classroom, the story went a bit differently.
Pyramus was played by a McDonald’s Big Mac and Thisbe, a quarter-pounder cheeseburger, both destined to be together, until a hungry sumo wrestler had his way.
And so the story went, when the InterAct team came to Robert Mitchell Elementary School Friday for their final acting workshop of the week long-program.
Put on by the Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival in partnership with the Nevada Shakespeare Company, InterAct offers elementary through high school age kids a chance to experience Shakespeare in a more hands-on format.
“It really depends on what the schools need,” Joe Atack, an InterAct instructor, said. “We can focus on language, the text. It’s really to give kids a background of Shakespeare.”
InterAct, now in its third year, offers workshops that are designed specifically to coincide with the Nevada State Learning Standards for Theatre and English Language Arts, with acting, reading and performing exercises that allow interpretation of Shakespeare text.
“It’s fun when you get kids interested in something,” said Atack, who is best known as “Shakespeare Joe” by the kids. “And when you come across one that’s shy or struggles with reading, you get to see them come out of their shell. It’s great to see.”
The program, which is completely free to the school, is a supplemental program and comes at a critical time given current budget constraints, Atack said.
“Theater, unfortunately, is the first thing to go,” Atack said. “Art is really important to have as a well-rounded curriculum. It teaches you so much about confidence in yourself and delivers important life messages.”
Fellow InterAct instructor Michelle Calhoun-Fitts echoed Atack’s sentiments.
“It’s so rewarding to work with kids that wouldn’t normally have this kind of exposure to Shakespeare,” Calhoun-Fitts said. “We just want to show them that they can have fun with it.”
And having fun was just what sixth grader Celine Norman was doing, having played the before mentioned intimidating, yet giggling, sumo wrestler.
“It’s a lot of fun,” Norman said. “I like all the games and acting. I would like to act someday.”
InterAct is an extension of the D.G. Menchetti Young Shakespeare Program, which offers summer camps during the month of August.
For more information about InterAct or the D.G. Menchetti Young Shakespeare Program, visit www.laketahoeshakespeare.com/kids.