Summer with Shakespeare

Last Friday, August 12 students from various schools in the area performed a hip-hop rendition of the Electra, a Greek tragedy written by Sophocles. 

Summer with Shakespeare
August 18
06:30 2016



More than a dozen young people spent Friday afternoon performing their own hip-hop infused rendition of “Electra,” a Greek tragedy written by Sophocles.

Set a few years after the Trojan War, the tale of Electra is one of vengeance.

After the death of their father, Agamemnon, at the hands of her mother, Electra and her brother Orestes seek revenge on their mother, Clytemnestra, and stepfather, Aegisthus, for the murder.

The spinoff of the Greek tragedy performed by young performers last week was set in Haiti to match the paintings inspired by the small country in Central Anatolia, hanging inside the Delta Fine Arts Center. The performance wrapped up a unique three-week summer enrichment program that encourages students to express themselves by learning and performing classical plays.

While most students elect for summer camps that are centered around outdoor activities like sports or nights around a camp fire, middle schoolers Lanni Jayne, Allen Wolcott and Dulce Sole Hernandez spent the last three weeks reading various works by Shakespeare and other authors, interpreting various pieces of art and readings. Not to mention, getting acting tips to use on stage from professional actors.

Sixth grader at Paisley Magnet School Lanni Jayne said preparing for the lead role of Electra called for a lot of extra work. She said preparing for opening night helped her learn how to manage her time and to be confident.

“Although I was nervous at first, after I got to know my lines I started to become more confident in myself,” said Jayne. “Being confident on stage is like being confident in life.”

Allen Wolcott, an eighth grader at Paisley said although it was challenging, the camp was fun at the same time. Wolcott, who also attended the camp last year, said the main thing he took away from this year’s experience was the importance of teamwork.

“I came back because I enjoyed it so much last year,” he continued. “It really is something fun to do,” Wolcott said.

“Anyone who is looking for something to do in the summer that’s fun and a challenge at the same time, this camp is for you,” he said. “I promise you won’t regret it.”

Eighth grader at Flat Rock Middle School Dulce Hernandez said although it was her first time performing, after working with camp co-founders and professional actors Laiona Michelle and Shuwanda Nzikou-Ilagole, she is thinking about joining the drama club when she goes to high school next year.

Shakers Performing Arts Camp teaches Shakespeare and classical theatre through music, dance, and textural interpretation. The camp, which is supported by the Reynolds American Foundation, also promotes reading and presentation skills, creativity, self-confidence, and teamwork.

Following the performance that brought the audience to their feet, Michelle said the foundation of the enrichment was built over 15 years ago in New York where she lives, with a goal to introduce children in the inner city to classical art and to create productive people who can contribute to their communities.

“In theatre you have three major things: You have your goal, you have your tactic, and your obstacle and we feel like that is life. These are skills they will use every day,” continued Michelle. “We’re not trying to create the next celebrity, but what we are trying to create is responsible citizens and I think we can do that through the arts.”

Nzikou-Ilagole, who serves as the camp’s artistic director, said, “We teach them that success is when opportunity meets preparation.”

“When they walk away from this piece of art, they are in fact creators. These young people will be able to return to their English class and be able to engage in conversations,” she said.

Drama instructor and city native Brandon Johnson, a graduate of Pace University Actors Studio School of Drama in New York, helped with the camp as well. Johnson said he was impressed after seeing the students perform.

“They came around and really got it together in no time,” he said. “They are at that age where their creativity flows and it’s actually amazing to watch them at that age because it’s total honesty.”

Shakers Performance Arts Camp is offered to children ages 6-17. The three-week camp costs$60. For more information or to register in the future, contact Delta Fine Arts Executive Director Nadiyah Quander at the center.

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Tevin Stinson

Tevin Stinson

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