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Date: Mar 03, 2011
Students Take The Hofstra Shakespeare Festival on the Road
New Hour-Length Adaptation of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" to Be Performed at Hofstra (March 12, 17, 19) and Area High Schools
Tour Stops at Half Hollows High School East (March 4), Lawrence Woodmere Academy (March 7),
Island Trees High School (March 10) and Hewlett High School (March 18)
Hofstra University, Hempstead, NY: In March Hofstra University presents its 62nd annual Shakespeare Festival at the John Cranford Adams Playhouse. Part of this longstanding University tradition is a one-hour adaptation of a Shakespeare classic, designed to introduce young theatergoers to classic theater. This year's one-hour companion play is What Fools! adapted by longtime English professor and Shakespearean scholar Maureen Connolly McFeely, a resident of Garden City, and directed by Jean Dobie Giebel, associate professor of drama and dance. In addition to three performances at the Hofstra Playhouse on March 12, 17 and 19, this shortened version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream will tour Long Island high schools, and for many teens it will be their first Shakespearean theatrical experience.
What Fools! takes young audiences into a modern high school setting. Set at “Athens High,” Professor Giebel describes the adaptation as “Archie meets the X-Men.” The portrayals of Titania and Oberon are inspired by comic book superheroes, and Puck is Oberon’s sidekick. The Mechanicals are workers at the high school and Bottom is a janitor. There are also a couple of outrageous lunch ladies who help move the action along.
This unique retelling of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and the high school tour were made possible by a gift to the University from Dr. David Salten, who had a long and influential career in local education until his passing in 2006. Dr. Salten was a former superintendent for the Long Beach school system, an expert on school desegregation in the late 1950s and a longtime supporter of Hofstra's Shakespeare Festival. Because of his generous endowment, Professor Giebel, then chair of Hofstra's Department of Drama and Dance, conceived of an outreach program that involved creating shortened and more accessible versions of Shakespeare's plays, suitable for younger audiences. She invited Dr. McFeely to participate in this new component of the Shakespeare Festival.
This is the fourth year Dr. McFeely has adapted Shakespeare's plays for the Festival. Previous years’ adaptations have included one-hour versions of Julius Caesar, Macbeth and Romeo and Juliet. Dr. McFeely hopes that these condensed versions of Shakespearean plays that are often taught in high school are a great way for teachers and parents to introduce their students and teenagers to the works of Shakespeare.
What Fools! is currently scheduled to perform for classes at four local high schools. Taking this show on the road is a big responsibility for the Hofstra students who are in charge of the mobile set, transportation, set up and dismantling scenery. The high school visits include Half Hollows High School East (March 4), Lawrence Woodmere Academy (March 7), Island Trees High School (March 10) and Hewlett High School (March 18). The Hofstra students are assisted by James P. Hart, production manager and technical director for the Department of Drama and Dance, who books the tour and serves as a liaison with the local schools. For more information on the school visits call the Hofstra Department of Drama and Dance at (516) 463-5444.
For those interested in attending one of the Hofstra performances of What Fools!, it will be performed with a concert of early music titled "These Mortals Be" by the Hofstra Collegium Musicum on Saturday, March 12 and 19, at 2 p.m. at the John Cranford Adams Playhouse. Tickets are $11, $8 for senior citizens and non-Hofstra students with ID. There will also be a Thursday, March 17, 8 p.m. performance of What Fools!, and tickets on this date are $6. For tickets to these performances, call the Hofstra Box Office at (516) 463-6644.