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A Midsummer Night’s Dream: Zoom Style

Ninth-graders in Meredith Brown’s English class recently performed an abridged version of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” via Zoom. After two workshops with actors at Cincinnati Shakespeare Company in early February, Brown’s students developed their characters through several in-class rehearsals. During the two-day performance, students used virtual backgrounds of enchanted forests and cozy indoor spaces to set the scene for their characters and performed their lines while wearing costumes and props to depict Puck, Hermia, Nick Bottom, and others. Brown notes, “Plays are written to be performed. Although our class is not an acting class and the students are not graded based on their skill as performers, the experience of thinking like a performer greatly enriches their understanding. They know the story much better now than they did when they initially encountered it simply as readers.” The choice of Zoom was also intentional, said Brown. “Our classes have a few students who have been learning by remote throughout the year and others who are occasionally remote due to COVID safety measures, so it made sense to plan for a Zoom-based performance that could accommodate all students equally, regardless of circumstances. Shakespeare’s works live on, centuries after his lifetime, because performers and audiences continue to see their own lives mirrored in Shakespeare’s treatment of timeless themes. In the last year, theater companies at every level, from school troupes to professional companies, have adapted to the challenges of our day by adapting their performances to Zoom, YouTube, and similar platforms. We simply did the same!”