At Shakespeare University, our goal is to help students gain a better understanding of William Shakespeare’s plays and, in the process, to challenge students intellectually and emotionally to better understand themselves and their responsibilities in reaching goals.
Every year, students in grades four through eight produce and direct a Shakespeare play. Guided by administrators, and teachers, students add a twist to Shakespeare’s masterpieces and the selected play is set in another era. Past productions have spotlighted 1950s Havana, pre-World War I France, an American Western motif, and a 20th century university campus.
In addition to planning and building sets–including light and sound systems–students design and sew costumes, and research make-up and hairstyles appropriate for the production.
Students at Westwood begin reading Shakespeare in fourth grade and, by the time they finish eighth grade, they have read and performed in five Shakespeare plays and have been exposed to several more. Shakespeare University enables students to stretch farther than just acting. They also learn the importance of producing, directing, advertising, and technical aspects of the theatre.
Our public relations crew designs t-shirts, designs and writes the play program, and promotes the play to Westwood families. The production affords all students in grades four through eight the opportunity to practice their project and team skills and the third grade students begin their introduction to the performances by managing the concession stands and serving as ushers.
One of the main facets of The Westwood School is its sense of community and nowhere is this aspect more evident than in the support and respect the students give each other while preparing for their roles and production responsibilities.