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THE PLAY'S THE THING WHEREIN STUDENTS
WILL LET SHAKESPEARE'S WORDS TAKE WING

To some it may be much ado about nothing, but to students from 10 Western New York high school drama programs, the play's the thing, and they plan to prove it Monday.

The drama programs, part of the Globe Theatre's "Shakespeare Lives" project in jolly old England, are collaborating to produce William Shakespeare's comedy "Much Ado About Nothing" in the Starpoint High School auditorium at 7 p.m. that evening. It's open to the public. Admission is free.

Lockport English teacher Kathryn Heinemann, who studied in England for two weeks last summer, said only the schools who had teachers participate at the Globe Theatre's "Shakespeare Lives" program last summer are taking part in the production.

Part of their charge from the Globe is to spread the word of Shakespeare to students, and use what they've learned to help students put on one of Shakespeare's plays.

To do that, Heinemann said, each school has been assigned a scene from "Much ado About Nothing."

"It's been divided into 10 different parts with each school performing a part," she said. "Lockport kids will do the first scene, and it will go from one school to the other until the story is told."

Students from Lockport, Barker, Grand Island, Lafayette, Clarence, Depew, Wellsville, Frontier, Lakeshore and Williamsville South high schools are performing.

Starpoint's "Shakespeare Lives Club" is hosting the production, and will present a short play and live Tudor music by district students prior to the main event, Starpoint English teacher Al Franco said. Franco studied at the Globe Theater for two weeks each of the last two summers.

Franco, moderator of Starpoint's "Shakespeare Lives Club," said the schools expect to make it easier for the audience to follow the story line by having all actors dress probably in black, with each character wearing a colored sash.

Barker English teacher Shannon Young, who also studied at the Globe, said that should make it easier for audiences to remember characters, regardless of who has the role.

The schools became involved in the "Shakespeare Lives" program because the Thomas S. Kenan Institute of the Arts of North Carolina -- via Lockport's Kenan Center and Buffalo's Shakespeare in the Park organization -- paid to have an English teacher from each district sent to the Globe Theatre for two weeks last summer. The teachers studied how to teach students to enjoy Shakespeare's plays, and how to perform in them. It's the program's second year in this area, Franco said.

Buffalo's Shakespeare in the Park program, under Saul Elkin, and the Kenan Center in Lockport were selected to jointly coordinate the program in Western New York, the only area in the United States to have it besides North Carolina.

Heinemann, who had her Lockport students put on "Taming of the Shrew" last month, said her Globe experience was so all-encompassing that it gave her many ways to bring Shakespeare to life for her students.

e-mail: pwestmoore@buffnews.com

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