Hazelwood Prep is a free-range homeschool academy, with a mission to foster an inclusive educational community that inspires excellence. Our vision is to develop students to be self-directed learners who are ready for higher education and career opportunities through living history, hands-on science, and cross-discipline integration. We serve homeschool families and anyone who needs additional educational support.
One of the ways we teach students is through theatrical production. Our primary program supports basic education and literacy by focusing on teaching middle and high school world history and literature. We follow the classical model of dividing history into four time periods and teaching those sections chronologically. For the current academic year (2021-2022) we are teaching Post Classical History (from roughly 300-1450 CE) and the story of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet fits nicely into this time period.
Education Through Theatre
Our reasoning for teaching Shakespeare, in particular, is as follows:
- Shakespeare as a basis for literature: If students can effectively read and understand Shakespeare, navigating other academic tasks becomes easier. Teaching the classics through theatre helps sharpen their thinking skills by exposing them to materials that challenge them.
- Advanced Vocabulary: It is estimated that Shakespeare coined 1700 of the words we commonly use every day. He transformed nouns into verbs, transformed verbs into adjectives, linked words that had never been used together before, adding prefixes and suffixes, and created whole new words in the process. He also developed idioms that have become so commonplace that they are now regarded as clichés.
- Character study: When it came to creating characters, Shakespeare demonstrated an in-depth insight into human nature. His heroes embody the anxieties and aspirations of every thinking person.
- Timelessness: Themes from Shakespeare’s plays are still relevant today. Among the topics covered in his plays are love and loss, betrayal, honor and compassion, fury and despair, jealousy and hate, fear and bravery, as well as amazement. They highlight issues of morality, politics, war, riches, and death, among other things.
- History: Many of Shakespeare’s plays are grounded in history, and even when not exactly historical, we are presented with themes, settings, and situations rooted in time periods that help students immerse themselves in the history.
We have a cast of 17 students ranging in age from 11 to 16. These students are also actively involved in the production of the show with older students being responsible for coordinating and leading show design in areas such as props, costumes, and set and younger students assisting the endeavor. More technical aspects like lighting and sound design will be led by technical staff of Aurora Theatre at Lawrenceville Arts Center with key students engaging in supportive roles.
Content advisory: This play references mature themes and violence.