Judge Punishes Kids with Shakespeare
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.0984 Monday, 30 April 2001
From: Robert J. Matter <
Date: Saturday, 28 Apr 2001 13:29:11 -0500
Subject: Judge Punishes Kids with Shakespeare
Judge punishes kids with
April 28, 2001
BY ADAM GORLICK
PITTSFIELD, Mass.--He killed to be king. And in the end, he was killed
For the 15-year-old playing Claudius in a scene from Shakespeare's
"Hamlet," the role was uncomfortably close to real life.
Convicted of assault and battery with a deadly weapon, Nate was among
nine juvenile offenders sentenced to the stage by a judge.
"I thought this was stupid at first, and I thought I would quit," he
said. "But I'm proud of myself. I've never done anything all the way
To quit or not to quit wasn't really an option. Participation was a
mandatory part of probation for the Berkshire County teens.
"What happens with these kids tomorrow--who knows?" said Juvenile Court
Judge Paul Perachi. "But at least we've given them the chance to see
they can complete something. We've given them tools to communicate and
hopefully to make better decisions."
The students' last names were not released, and authorities would not
allow their pictures to be taken because they are juveniles.
Thursday night's performance of 11 scenes from "Hamlet" was Perachi's
way of dealing with something rotten in Berkshire County. He created
the program with help from the Lenox-based Shakespeare & Co. theater
troupe and a $10,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.
The play was short on props; the sword fights and poisonings mostly were
conveyed with gestures. The actors' princely robes and gravedigger rags
could not conceal their sneakers and work boots.
For four hours a week in the past three months, the teenagers worked
with professional actors to practice lines, project their voices and
build their confidence. Accomplishment, not the play, was the thing.
"This is not a pack of frightening delinquents," said co-director Jenna
Wade, an actress with Shakespeare & Co. "They're just a bunch of kids.
But what they're experienced at is failure, so it was hard for them to
commit to something that they could have failed at again."
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