Shakespeare comes to Quinton
By Pennie Embry, Staff Writer
QUINTON, Jan. 21 — How do you bring a dead playwright who lived 400 years ago and half a world away to Quinton? And how can his words, written long before this country was born, have meaning to students today, in 2010?
By helping those students understand that the playwright, William Shakespeare, was simply a storyteller. Shakespeare spun stories about human nature, about people not so different from those you might encounter along the sidewalks, in the businesses and in the schools of small Oklahoma towns like Quinton and Kinta. Of course, the people in Shakespeare’s plays might be magicians, wild men, spirits, monsters or kings.
“Basically, that’s what we’re doing in this class, we’re telling stories here,” said Sue Ellen Reiman, the managing director of, and an actor with, Oklahoma Shakespeare in the Park. “And we’re getting the students to help us tell the stories so they can understand why, after all these years, people are still doing Shakespeare.”
Reiman and fellow OSP actor J. Shane McClure are spending the week at Quinton High School, conducting special classes on Shakespeare for alternative education high school students from Quinton and Kinta. The actors’ week-long tour in Quinton is part of an arts program for the alternative school funded by an Oklahoma Arts Council grant.
“During the school year, we’ve brought in several different artists through the grant,” said Jeremy Gragg, director of the cooperative alternative education program for Kinta and Quinton. “We’ve brought in a musician, a potter, and now we’re exposing them to Shakespeare. These teaching artists are showing them that they can have a career in art after high school; they’re showing them art can be incorporated into almost everything. This (alternative education) program is hugely successful. We’ve graduated 12 students over the last four years who otherwise would have dropped out of school. But they were given a chance to finish their education and get a diploma. We’re excited about what we’ve done and where we’re going, and we want to give these students as many opportunities to learn as many things as possible.”
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