DEVENS — School productions are typically directed by a teacher or parent. But the production of a “Midsummer Nights Dream” at the Francis W. Parker Charter Essential School is not. It’s lead by student directors!
Anne Dufault of Pepperell and Shannon Stockwell of Littleton, both in high school, are presenting this play with a cast of seventh and eighth-graders on Feb. 14 and 16. For the past three months, they have directed middle school students in this classic Shakespearean play.
When asked their reasons for picking this play, they replied with enthusiasm.
“Because we love it,” Shannon Stockwell responded.
“It’s true,” Anne added. “We do love Shakespeare. Also, we both think Shakespearean plays are really great to work on with younger actors because they allow for such fun, over the top acting.”
Stepping into the director’s role and working with young actors was an eye-opener for both of them.
“I wasn’t expecting the amount of enthusiasm we got, so sometimes they are a little too excited and difficult to control,” said Stockwell. “But we also love their enthusiasm, because they put it into their acting.”
“Actually, in some ways it is easier to work with young actors,” Dufault admitted. “Because the older students get, the more self conscious they often get, so we were working with kids who weren’t afraid to look stupid — and acting is all about looking stupid.”
They feel this has been a wonderful learning experience for them and for the actors. When asked what they felt was most rewarding, the directors were in agreement: Seeing the actors having fun.
“We’d love to have this be a perfect play, but more than that, we want the kids to have fun, and to continue in theater because they found this to be a fun and creative experience,” they said.
This feeling of enjoying this experience is echoed by the cast.
“In this play, I had a lot of fun and I learned a lot of new things that I will use for my future acting,” explained Emma Bridges, an eighth grade actress in the play. “I’m also a little more comfortable on stage and more willing to take risks. Hanging out with the people in the play was great too!”
If you are interested in seeing this production, it will be performed on Feb. 14 at 4:30 p.m. and 16 at 7:30 p.m. at the Francis W. Parker Charter Essential School in Devens. Tickets can be bought at the door for $3 or can be purchased ahead of time at the school.