For Young Offenders, a Sentence of Shakespeare's Sentences
30 июля 2013

For Young Offenders, a Sentence of Shakespeare's Sentences

For Young Offenders, a Sentence of Shakespeare's Sentences
This is the VOA Special English Education Report, from voaspecialenglish.com | facebook.com/voalearningenglish In the American state of Massachusetts, some teenagers who break the law are sentenced ... to Shakespeare. Twelve young actors rehearse the opening of "Henry the Fifth." They started meeting in May. They have less than two weeks to go before they must perform the play for the Shakespeare in the Courts program. Like most of the others, fifteen-year-old Tim was not a fan of William Shakespeare. He is here for a violent crime -- assault and battery. He says: "The judge sentenced me here, so my first thoughts were, 'Shakespeare is not my thing. I'd rather not.' It's a lot easier than picking up trash, so I gave it a try." And he discovered there is a lot to like about the English writer who died in sixteen sixteen. The young actors return the trust and respect that director Kevin Coleman shows them. They clearly enjoy working with him -- and with Shakespeare. Mr. Coleman says: "If you present it to them in a way that engages their imagination, that engages their playfulness, that engages their willingness, they really come alive." Kevin Coleman is education director for Shakespeare and Company, a theater group in Lenox, Massachusetts. Many years ago, the principal of the local high school came to him to develop a theater program for the school. That principal, Paul Perachi, later became a juvenile court judge for Berkshire County. He wanted to copy the program, to help the teens in court develop self-esteem and communication skills and better control their anger. More than two hundred kids have been sentenced to Shakespeare. The program is ten years old. And it has received a lot of recognition, including an award in two thousand six from the White House. Paul Perachi left the court last year at seventy, the age when judges in Massachusetts must retire. But Shakespeare in the Courts is still going strong under the direction of Kevin Coleman.He says: "We're not there to fix them. It's not about fixing them. Will they get into trouble after they have done this program? Sure, because they are adolescents. Will they get into as much trouble? No." Fifteen-year-old Tim already sees a change in himself. He says he has more patience to get through long scenes. Paul Perachi says all the hard work is clear in the final performance. And that's the VOA Special English Education Report. You can watch a video of this report at voaspecialenglish.com. (Adapted from a radio program broadcast 03June2010)
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