Grace Montessori students celebrate Shakespeare's 450th birthday

2014-04-23T16:30:00Z 2014-04-23T23:57:06Z Grace Montessori students celebrate Shakespeare's 450th birthdayBy CHRIS CIOFFI ccioffi@billingsgazette.com The Billings Gazette

The large multipurpose space of the new Grace Montessori Academy, 4809 Grand Ave., was transformed into an impromptu Globe Theatre as a touring troupe of players retold a version of William Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night” for a group of elementary school students.

The troupe, part of the Bozeman organization Montana Shakespeare in the Parks, puts on plays across Montana for high school and elementary school students during the school year and in parks over the summer.

But Wednesday was slightly different: the players brought cake to celebrate The Bard’s 450th birthday.

“This is a way to introduce Shakespeare in a delightful, nonthreatening way,” said Lila Michael, the production manager. “It gives them a way to think about Shakespeare that’s really positive.”

The 40-minute play they performed for students, titled “What Country, Friends?” helps young students understand the sometimes-complicated prose and the underlying story.

During the play, actors Danielle Weineman, Colter Langan and Sean Driscoll interacted with the audience, defining archaic words like “thou” and “thee.”

At the end of the show, the actors came out and led the audience in singing happy birthday to Shakespeare.

They also answered some questions before cake was served.

Upon hearing that the rumors of cake, Haan Porter, 11, was thrilled.

“I love Oreos and cake,” he said.

Through bites of cake, Haan did say he has more respect for the body of Shakespeare’s work. Before he saw the play, he believed the playwright “was sort of lame.”

However, by the end, he had gained a greater appreciation.

“He’s pretty cool,” he said. “He puts feeling into his plays, so that people can feel what he felt when he wrote the play.”

Copyright 2014 The Billings Gazette. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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