Shakespeare In Your Backyard


This summer on June first and third, the Shakespeare class will be performing Hamlet, directed by Leah Underwood. Underwood’s two productions will take place on June first for the CSA schools and on June third at Millpond. There will be no charge for tickets and parent volunteers might be needed for assistance with props and costumes. 

Underwood stepped up to teach this class when the former teacher stepped down. This is Underwood’s first time directing any kind of theatrical production but not her first encounter with theater. The English teacher has taken acting classes in the past. She has participated in one musical and a student-written and directed play in high school. Although she has experience acting, directing is an entirely different playing field. “Knowing some of the things my director used to help me, I can then use those to help the students,” states Underwood. Fortunately, this former acting experience allows her to apply her skills to a director’s role, and pass them on to student actors. “So I have a vision in mind, however…I don’t know if my vision is how it will end up looking because [of] the students. I want them to play the role that they interpret. And what it looks like when we set it, what their characters will look like; all that kind of stuff,” Underwood says. Regarding her unease, “My biggest concern is that we won’t be ready. I know a lot of the students are really into this, they are already learning lines for different parts even though they don’t have their parts yet. They are already studying the play. I know that they’re going to put everything into it. My biggest concern is just that we’ll still be reading off our scripts during the performance.” When asked about specific wants Underwood mentioned that she wants students to have fun and make it their own. She also mentioned she wants it to be a period-specific play but at the same time more modern with the possibility of colors being assigned to characters. When Underwood explains her hope for cast interactions she said, “My goal is for [students] to know each other and feel comfortable with each other because it can be really uncomfortable, especially as a high school student, to act.” She adds that feeling content with peers around you allows for the characters to be portrayed in an accurate way. 

Underwood’s main focus is the students. “I want the students to have fun and really make it their own,” she voices, “If they can at least feel confident and supported by the people in the class, that can help us come out of our shells and…not be worried about what people might be thinking.” Her prioritization of her students assures a play filled with care and determination. “That’s my main goal…support each other and get to know each other.” Although there are obstacles to make this production, her optimism, and faith in her actors promise a Hamlet you’ll never forget.