“The assignment was to recreate the play Hamlet--to tell it in our own words, in our own way,” said one 10th grader.
Students began the unit by watching a film version of Hamlet and a live performance by the San Francisco Shakespeare Festival. This was the third year the SF Shakespeare Festival came to Stanbridge Academy. Previously, actors staged As You Like It and Julius Caesar.
“Shakespeare was meant to be seen live,” said Allison. “He did not write his plays to be studied in a classroom; the best way to experience Shakespeare is through performance.”
Students then worked collaboratively to adapt the play to a new location and time period.
“The result is four distinct interpretations of Hamlet unique to each class,” said Allison.
Students in Allison’s second period class were the first to complete their film. Watch it here.
“We chose [to set the play in] World War II, because the actors are only men,” said one student in the class. “It would have been hard to put in [the characters] Ophelia and Gertrude, so we did letters.”
Faced with a $0 budget, students worked creatively to bring their scripts to life. Students in the WWII group brought in military-style helmets and jackets, borrowed prop guns from Maker Teacher David Hopper, and filmed in various locations around the Stanbridge campus.
“My jacket came from Vietnam, so we had to make due,” said one of the students. “The basement scene was fun: we made it look like a war bunker.”
Students said the multimodal approach to the play made learning Hamlet easier and more fun.
“I probably would not have understood the play as well if we had just read it and not done all the other stuff,” said a sophomore.
Other classes set their plays in a futuristic outer space, the modern-day White House, and contemporary Scotland. All of the films will be screened at an all-high school viewing in January. Subscribe to the Hamlet adaptation YouTube play list to see them as they become available.