Merry Month of May Praised for Fun & Effective Learning


Emma Penn '17 performs Hamlet's soliloquy at Merrie Month of May festival.

Mary Glynn '17, Contributing Writer

From snapshots of scenes to soliloquy snip-its, authentic Renaissance dance and song to hasty battles, the Montrose English department dedicated an entire day to the performance of Shakespeare productions. Grades 6-11 participated with enthusiasm in the event.

Throughout the day, students in grades 6-11 performed dialogues, soliloquies, and even battle scenes from Shakespeare's plays.

Ana Liu ’17
Throughout the day, students in grades 6-11 performed dialogues, soliloquies, and even battle scenes from Shakespeare’s plays.


Mrs. Whitlock explained the creation of this new Montrosian festival as a way to maximize  students’ appreciation for Shakespearian language while getting out of their comfort-zone and having fun.  She recounted: “We want students to love Shakespeare, and the gift of Shakespeare has been his ability to craft beauty and innovation into language. So, we wanted them to play with the language — immerse themselves in the language. We also know that May can be a hard month, with end of year assessments, projects and final exams looming. Creating a festival was a way to create fun learning memories.”

The hands-on, interactive and amusing atmosphere did in fact create many memories, yet performing and watching Shakespeare teaches a lot more than you might think. It seems analogous to conducting labs in a science class or discussing historical themes rather than just reading from a textbook. When we do the actions outselves, whatever they may be, the learning sticks. So, with the difficult-to-read Shakespearean English, the same holds true. Performing it teaches us not only to understand more complex language, but it also increases our appreciation for language as an art. Ahhh indeed, the crazy things our teachers make us do (actually) have their reasons! In fact, Mrs. Whitlock explained how, “Montrose is also very committed to Folger methods of teaching Shakespeare, which focus on getting students acting and working through the language. Hence, we thought up the Merrie Month of May.”

And the results? Couldn’t be better. Each class had its own play and own way of getting everyone up on stage and letting loose. There was plenty of grinning and laughing as friends watched friends saying all sorts of punny nonsense. Some speech team, play veterans owned it (which we all saw coming and was a joy to see) and others newer to the stage found their own strong voices in the limelight (yes we all saw you Mrs Sullivan, doing some recruiting on the sidelines.).

More importantly everyone had fun. Mrs. Whitlock added: “I was so impressed by the number of talented actresses we have, and I suspect Mrs. Sullivan was doing some scouting today. I was also impressed by how joyful and NOT nervous everyone seemed. The ability to stand before your peers, make yourself vulnerable and take risks without fear is a tribute to the community we’ve all created at Montrose, especially to the culture of mutual support that the students have cultivated.”  The performers too certainly enjoyed themselves. Emma Penn 17 said: “I always loved Shakespeare, and I thought it was fun to express my interpretation of Hamlet.”

At the end of the day, I think everyone needed to “get their Shakespeare” on in this Merrie — academic-marathon — Month of May. And what a joy it was!