Drama in the classroom

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Love the tragic tale of "Romeo and Juliet"? Entranced by the magic in "A Midsummer Night's Dream"? Saint John Paul the Great Catholic High School in Dumfries introduced an English class for the 2015-16 school year that mixes poetry and theater - and will bring it to life for middle-school audiences.

John Paul English teacher Daniel McInerny teaches the class based solely on the work of William Shakespeare. In the course, "Acting II: Playing Shakespeare," students study and act out some of Shakespeare's greatest works.

"The first Shakespearean story I ever read was 'Macbeth,' and ever since then I was hooked," said senior Allison McCrumb. "I love Shakespeare, and I think his stories are super interesting and entertaining. So, when I found out the course was available, I was excited to sign up."

The emphasis on students' acting is one aspect that distinguishes the class from others. Stephen Keane, chairman of the John Paul drama department, noted that to be eligible to take the class, "one must have taken 'Acting I' or have previously performed in a John Paul production."

Perhaps the most unique aspect of the course is the creation of the JP Shakespeare Company that will visit diocesan middle schools to perform what the students have studied. Next month, the company will perform a 50-minute version of "As You Like It." John Paul students will perform the comedy, followed by a question-and-answer session for the students.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2015