Brenda Dolma takes a seat in front of the small stage at Homer Council on the Arts. Her glasses and a script lay on the floor next to her bare feet. With a clear voice, she calls out to the students gathered around her.
“Cast! Please get your props ready and lets start at the top.”
So “Hamlet, Prince of Denmark,” begins.
For five years, TheaterShakes, a fall youth theater program sponsored by Homer Council on the Arts and Pier One Theatre, has been performing works of Shakespeare under the direction of Brenda Dolma.
The students use works that have been abridged specifically for school performances. Yet, even with the shortened versions, the essence of Shakespeare remains. The material is left intact, and it looks and sounds like Shakespeare, said Dolma.
In addition to being ideal for students, the 30-minute plays provide a great opportunity for people to experience Shakespeare — especially if they have shied away from him in the past.
“Thirty minutes is not scary,” said Dolma with a laugh.
TheatreShakes provides theatre experience for kids ages 12 to 18 during the school year. For two months every fall students learn everything from audition skills and stagecraft to script memorization. Dolma said she added some different skill sets to this year’s program, as well as more responsibilities in preparation for the production.
“They love Shakespeare,” said Dolma of her class, some of whom have been in the program since it began.
This fall Dolma, along with a current student and four former students, participated in the Pier One production of Les Miserables. That meant back-to-back rehearsals, which Dolma said made them feel like real actors, going from show to show.
Although seven of the nine youth in this year’s program are returning students, Dolma said it isn’t for everyone. Some kids have tried it out and decided it wasn’t their thing.
With the ages of students spanning elementary to high school, (there are two 10-year-olds who enrolled with special permission) it might seem hard to keep focused. But Dolma said that just because a person is young doesn’t mean they aren’t professional.
“The young people who are motivated and interested are just wonderful,” she said.
Toni Ross is a freelance writer who lives in Homer.
By William Shakespeare
Directed by Brenda Dolma
Abridged for the Shakespeare School Festival by Martin Lamb and Penelope Middleboe
7 p.m. Friday
Homer Council on the Arts, 355 W. Pioneer Ave.
$5 at the door
Hamlet – Galen Lyon
Hamlet Understudy –
Claudius – Tadhg Scholz
Gertrude – Chloe Pleznac
Polonius – Iris Downey
Laertes – Indigo Sonneborn
Ophelia – Cassidy Wylde
Horatio – Summer McGuire
Rosencrantz – Simon Lopez
Osric – Theodore Castellani
Grave Digger –
Ghost of King Hamlet – Tadhg Scholz