After a long hiatus, the Southern Shakespeare Company is back and better than ever. What began more than 20 years ago as a Shakespeare festival in Kleman Plaza has been resurrected as an organization that offers not only a free annual festival but also much more. Over the past three years, educational programming has been developed including workshops, classroom experiences, a sonnet contest, and performance opportunities for youngsters. This year marked the first summer camp, called Damsels, Daggers, & Death.
Campers ranged from kindergartners to teens and were grouped into separate elementary, middle, and high school camps. During the weeklong sessions, they all got the opportunity to practice acting skills, build stage presence, play improvisational games and explore one of the Bard’s most beloved plays, “Romeo and Juliet.” The elementary school participants were especially excited to delve into the Elizabethan era.
Nine-year-old Caroline Cox was drawn to this camp because she likes “learning about Shakespeare and how he puts the words together.” Ellie Leeman, also 9, agreed and said, “I like that he’s poetic in everything he does.”
As much poet as playwright, Shakespeare is well known for his sonnets. Campers analyzed Sonnet 18 which concludes with “So long as men can breathe or eyes can see, So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.” Caroline was particularly moved by this sentiment and explained: “It’s about poetry and if men can breathe and eyes can see, then people can keep reading it over the years, decades and centuries, so the poetry is still alive if we’re alive.”
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