Because each person's life is balanced on the edge of a sword

Because each person's life is balanced on the edge of a sword

Hamlet Project Durham

Hamlet Project Durham is a 5-year artistic, career-training, education boosting, social change project constructed around an intentionally multi-racial core group of, initially, 10 - 20 nine to twelve-year-old actors, preparing to perform William Shakespeare’s masterwork “Hamlet” in spring 2020.

With significant community support, we intend to create a model for using the educational opportunities inherent in theatre arts to transform systemic patterns of poverty based on race in the United States. We will achieve this using strategies for increasing student language acquisition/experience and by helping to bridge participants from HPD into educational and work positions that will further their goals. To learn more and register, click on the forms below:

Download: HPD FAQS

DOWNLOAD: DRT fall 2015 CLASS Registration form

download: hpd Registration agreement

click "Add to cart" to PAY $25 Materials Fee for Fall 2015 "Hamlet" classes at PAYPAL

Why Use William Shakespeare’s “Hamlet?”

 "The time is out of joint. O cursed spite that ever I was born to set it right." ― Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act I, sc. 5

“Hamlet” is widely considered one of the greatest plays written in the English language; Shakespeare’s innovative, imaginative use of language added 1,700 words to our common vocabulary. In his masterwork, “Hamlet,” he introduced 170 new words. HPD takes advantage of this rich resource to use strategies of language immersion, creative motivation, acting training and literary analysis to increase oral, written and reading literacy in participants.

johanna subi.jpg
 “Estimates show that about 40% of fourth graders struggle with reading at even basic levels and there is a markedly disproportionate representation of children who are poor and who belong to ethnic or racial minorities among those who struggle with reading...“ Literacy and its Impact on Child Development,” Dr. Laura M. Justice, 2010
“Children’s ongoing engagement in literacy activities and their developing propensity toward considering language as an object of attention become primary routes for language development.” Dr. Laura M. Justice, 2010
 In a 5,200-hour year (the amount of language experience) would be 11.2 million words for a child in a professional family, 6.5 million words for a child in a working-class family, and 3.2 million words for a child in a welfare family. In four years of such experience, an average child in a  professional family would have experience with almost 45 million words, an average child in a working-class family would have experience with 26 million words, and an average child in a welfare family would have accumulated experience with 13 million words.”  “The Early Catastrophe,” by Betty Hart and Todd R. Risely
 “The fourth-grade reading gap (which widens in each succeeding grade) represents the single greatest failure in American public schooling and the most disheartening affront to the ideal of democratic education.”  By E.D. Hirsch Jr., American Educator Magazine
 “His (Shakespeare’s) vocabulary was the largest of any writer, at over twenty-four thousand words. According to James Davie Butler, "… (The total vocabulary) of Homer, including the hymns as well as both Iliad and Odyssey, is scarcely nine thousand."  The Once Used Words in Shakespeare, James D. Butler,  read before the Shakespeare Society of America, April 22, 1886 (p. 2)
 “Phonological awareness is the ability to consciously reflect on and manipulate the sound system of a language. It is foundational to success in reading, writing, and spelling.”   Justice (2010) and Roseberry-McKibbin (2007, 2013)
“A child’s oral language development provides the foundation for all other language and literacy skills … Our vocabulary and language ability control the way we are able to think about things. Understanding words orally is essential to being able to understand words written down.” From Oral Language and Early Literacy by Kathleen A. Roskos, Patton O. Tabors, and Lisa A Lenhart. (2009, International Reading Association)

The themes in "Hamlet" resonate today. Hamlet, the young Danish prince who is the central character in the story, struggles with almost immobilizing uncertainty about how to live ethically and act effectively in challenging, “out-of-joint,” times. When charged by his father’s ghost to respond to the unthinkable act of brother killing brother, young Hamlet is torn between rage and despair and contemplates suicide.  His friends admire and try to support Hamlet as he teeters on the sharp edge of a sword, but he feels isolated by the responsibility laid on him by his father with the words, “Remember me.” Increasingly alone, he cannot determine how to live up to what the time and place demand, succumbing instead to the violent forces surrounding him.

Is there a happy ending possible for this young prince? We know there is not. We recognize this as a tragic tale, a tale both old and tragically new. We hope in the new age there can be, if not a fairytale happy ending, at least accessible paths to active and satisfying lives for all our children. With HPD, we work to create positive possibilities among groups of young men and women living in “out-of-joint” times and faced with the responsibility to solve nearly unbearable, life-or-death problems. We are convinced there could be no better play than William Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” with which to accomplish the goals of this project.

Top of the Page