Learning Shakespeare’s Lingo with Mrs. Castillo
I don’t get it. Mi no comprende. These are the reactions of people forced to read Shakespeare. I can’t say I blame them. I mean who could get stuff like, “Jack shall have Jill; Nought shall go ill;
the man shall have his mare again, and all shall be well”?
Therefore, as all of us 6th graders were to perform the Shakespearean play A Midsummer Night’s Dream, it was fortunate and timely when Ms. Divina David, our Drama and Theater in Education Coordinator, invited Mrs. Florina Castillo for a talk last November 22, 2013. That day was the official launching of A Midsummer Night’s Dream production, as Ms. David put it.
Mrs. Castillo was a former SSC Grade School principal and the person who brought A Midsummer Night’s Dream to our curriculum 24 years ago. She taught us the language of Shakespeare, with all its inversions and omissions and weird words. Mrs. Castillo is a literature genius. Her knowledge in stage production and Shakespeare’s plays were generously marveled.
Mrs. Castillo discussed with us Shakespeare’s life and his world. The part I liked the most was when we talked about Stratford-upon-Avon, which is apparently the place where Shakespeare was born. Shakespeare had a nice house. I had a nice little daydream about living there in Elizabethan times, until I remembered about the rat infestations and having to pee in pots (those were the days before proper bathrooms).
Another thing I learned was that Shakespeare only went to grammar (read: elementary) school, which just proves that genius doesn’t need a college education. YEAH, SHAKESPEARE!
But the most important thing we learned that day was the language of Shakespeare. Shakespeare liked to mess with us by jumbling around words, making sentences ineffable to the average person (but poetic). Also, if he couldn’t find an appropriate word to rhyme with, he flat-out invented one. Amazing.
This understandably made our brains turn into mush, so Mrs. Castillo explained the meanings of unfamiliar words, the order in which to read them, and the emotions in certain passages from A Midsummer Night’s Dream. We were also taught when and how long you should stop. We read the lines together.
And then she asked for volunteers to read dialogues, which caused an eruption of shouting and excitement. People started coercing other people into raising their hands. The Little Theater was filled with the voices of active students demanding to be called, read lines, and perform. Finally, the read-alouds began, and thus also began our introduction to Shakespeare and his play, A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
By Louise Villamin, 6-St. Majolus