In Logan a group of kids have chosen to spend their summer days rehearsing Shakespeare.
"A lot of people think I'm kind of crazy to think that kids would want to spend their entire summer doing this. I had to say 'if you're going to do the show, you'll be in here from 9:00 - 2:00 or 9:00 - 4:00 every day all summer.' I thought 5 kids would show up."
On the contrary, Director Mary Jackson-Smith found 28 kids were all too enthusiastic to give up beaches and picnics for prose and sword fights. And in making the decision to perform Hamlet in its uncut form this summer, Mary Jackson-Smith not only chose one of Shakespeare's most famous plays to produce but also one of his longest. She says for the students, "It's almost a badge of honor for them to do something that's not usually done."
What do the actors think?
"It's a challenge, not just to learn all the lines, but to maintain the energy necessary to not have it get flat," says Amy Jackson-Smith, the actor playing Hamlet.
Cameron Neeley, who plays Laertes, says "Doing the whole play brings more interest to the entire thing. It makes you think a little bit more than just having the famous scenes."
Amy Jackson-Smith says the group really comes together as emotional reinforcement.
"It's a pretty unique group. I think for a lot of people they find a lot of support in it. We're doing a difficult thing. Several people have gone through some difficult stuff outside of the program, and it's good that they can come somewhere they can be supported."
Cameron Neely has relied on the friends he's made here: "There is a lot of emotional support. I myself a few months ago lost my uncle. It's really hard to do this when Laertes' family dies. Emotional support is a big part of this group."
It's this emotional depth that director Jackson-Smith says the audience doesn't expect from such a young group:
"I think that a lot of times we adults don't take kids that seriously. We think it's cool that they're able to do this...almost like a trained animal...but it's a lot more than that. What's exciting here is when these kids make connections to these characters and these stories and these words from 400 years ago and they find connections to their own lives."
These connections elevate the performance to a truly enjoyable production.
Performances begin August 10 at the First Presbyterian Church in Logan.
More information is at www.centerforthearts.us/lys
Brianna’s passion for journalism comes from a love of learning and a desire to know everything. She studies Broadcast Journalism and Political Science at Utah State University and hopes one day to travel the world reporting hard news. She also works as the Aggie Radio news director and a reporter for USU TV.