Talk about old school — kids and teachers at IS 201 in Dyker Heights threw their building’s courtyard into a time warp for their ninth annual Shakespeare Festival on June 1.
Sixth-, seventh-, and eighth-grade students created a 17th-century English marketplace, complete with stands hawking wares referencing the Bard’s classic romance “Romeo and Juliet,” including “Juliet Jewels,” a “Masquerade Stand” dealing handmade masks, and “The World’s a Stage,” where kids learned old jester’s tricks like juggling and balancing feathers. The day even featured an appearance by Queen Elizabeth I — played by Principal Madeleine Brennan.
Drama teachers Christina Declara and Jessica O’Mahoney-Schwartz — whose students ran stands and pantomimed masked sketches — said the festival was an opportunity for kids outside their classes to learn about the great playwright and his work.
“It lets them all be a part of the arts,” declared Declara. “And my students really love coming down and interacting with all the grades.”
O’Mahoney-Schwartz said the fair was a way for the kids to have fun that actually enriched their worldview.
“They have no cultural references, they haven’t been exposed,” O’Mahoney-Schwartz said. “They get a lot of things they shouldn’t via TV and video games, but they don’t learn about art and history.”
The teachers were planning a performance of the star-crossed lovers’ tale on June 8, but state testing has now left the date up in the air. O’Mahoney-Schwartz said she hopes that the show does go on, since acting instills countless life-skills.
“It teaches reading, it teaches public speaking, it lets them be creative,” she said. “I’m crossing my fingers that we get to do it.”