Well, don't dare trying selling such an inane idea to the youngsters of North Bergen's Franklin School. In fact, the school has a drama club. And as their year-end performance last month, the 13 dedicated actors and actresses performed the works of the legendary William Shakespeare.
Say what? The Bard of Avon's plays being done by eighth graders? Most adults would have a tough time keeping up with such sophisticated language.
The Franklin School Drama Club, initiated this past school year, was the brainchild of the school's music teacher, Armine Irving, who didn't hesitate to teach the children about the intricate works of Shakespeare. "When I presented this project to [North Bergen Superintendent of Schools] Mr. [Peter] Fischbach, he was immediately very supportive of it," Irving said. "Something like this was never done before on the elementary school level and we were the pilot program."
Because it was not part of the general curriculum, the eager students met after school to participate in all aspects of the performing arts."
"It was something we all wanted to do for a long time," said Franklin graduate Stephanie Scatina. "We wanted to learn more about acting and performing."
It would have been easier to introduce the students to traditional Broadway musical comedies. But Irving took on the challenge of teaching the children about Shakespeare, something that, at first, was difficult for the students to understand.
"The first two times we went through it," said Franklin graduate Samantha Soto, "I didn't understand a single word. It was very hard to follow, with the language."
"At first, it was all a little complicated," Scatina said. "It was all so new to us that we really didn't know what was going on."
However, after a while, the students understood the message of Shakespeare's words.
"After reading it over and over, it became second nature to us," Soto said. "We felt the emotion and got used to how Shakespeare used his words."
"We definitely related to the teenagers in Romeo and Juliet," Scatina said. "Mrs. Irving helped us through every step of the way. It really was a lot of fun."
For 10 long months, the members of the Franklin Drama Club honed their newfound craft, preparing to produce scenes from "Romeo and Juliet" and "A Midsummer Night's Dream."
"We had a lot of practices and rehearsals," said Soto, who played the role Helena in "A Midsummer Night's Dream." "We did a lot of practicing on our own. Some of us got together and practiced our lines. It really was a lot of work."
To make their audience understand Shakespeare on their terms, they added some modern amenities.
"In 'Midsummer Night's Dream,' one of the actors came in on a scooter," Soto said. "So that added to the comedy of it. I think it helped the audience follow along better."
Scatina played the role of Juliet alongside Carlos Correa, who was Romeo. Amanda Ramirez played the role of the nurse in "Romeo and Juliet."
In "Midsummer," the very busy Correa played the role of messenger Puck. Brian Bejarno was Oberon, the king of the fairies. Efrain Calderon was Demetrius, Yessenia Gonzales was Hermia, Daniel Velasquez was Lysander, Elizabeth Ramirez was Queen Titania, and Cindy Silva and Lavinia Nieves were the ladies of the queen.
Emma Castro and Sheyla Bula were in charge of the makeup and Ramirez pulled double duty as the stage manager.
The students created all of the props and scenery as well. It was truly a labor of love.
As it turned out, the performances, held last month, were downright flawless.
"I think we shocked a lot of people that we were actually able to do it," said Scatina, who is headed to North Bergen High School in the fall. "It's definitely something I will always remember. I'm glad we were able to start it and now other kids will get the same chance that we got. We wanted to create something new; something that people would enjoy. I'm glad we did it."
"I've loved acting ever since I was little and always wanted to do it," said Soto, who is headed for Dwight-Englewood School in the fall. "It was one of the best experiences I've ever had in my life. I love acting and performing and I hope to continue it.
Added Soto, "People who never hung out together before all got together in the Drama Club. We grew as a family together and did everything together. That's something I'll always remember."