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Port Chester Fifth-Graders Celebrate Shakespeare

PORT CHESTER, N.Y. — Fifth-grade students at King Street School in Port Chester put on their theater caps Friday morning as they performed William Shakespeare’s tragedy “Julius Caesar” in front of a crowd of students and faculty.

King Street’s Shakespeare Festival, in its 17th year, is put on in conjunction with professors and directors from SUNY Purchase’s Performing Arts Center. SUNY Purchase graduate and retiring King Street Principal Dolores Obuch said the program has evolved over the years since she inherited it back in 1996.

Obuch said the students used to visit the stage at Purchase and participate in the University’s Shakespeare Festival every other year, until Purchase discontinued the festival in 2008. In the off-years, Obuch and the King Street faculty would put on their own performance, and continued to do so after ’08.

However, in 2012, Purchase again volunteered to work with the students as a going-away present to Obuch.

“I thought they did a great job,” Obuch said. “The kids really get into it; they love it. If the kids can read Shakespeare, then I've done my job.”

This year, the 71 students participating in the play got special instruction from former Royal Shakespeare Company member and SUNY Purchase PAC Professor Ian Driver.

Driver said it was a great thrill to watch the students perform the play in such an exemplary fashion.

“At the end of the play, when Caesar dies or when Brutus kills himself, if you do it right you can hear a pin drop in the theater. Today I could hear a pin drop,” Driver said. “This is a group of fifth-grade students who have thoroughly understood the story as they have done for thousands of years, and it was a privilege and I was very proud.”

In addition to Friday morning’s performance in front of their fellow students, the fifth-graders will also be performing for their parents at 7 p.m. Friday.

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