Bethel High School students attend Romeo and Juliet

On Nov. 8, 120 ninth and tenth graders from Bethel-Tate High School attended a performance of Romeo and Juliet at the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company.

Traditionally, ninth graders read Romeo and Juliet aloud in class and watch the 1968 movie version starring Olivia Hussey.  The English teachers interpret the play as it’s being read in class and show a section of the movie after each act.

The movie helps the students understand the play better because they get to watch the action unfold.

But that wasn’t enough for Mr. Jackson and Ms. Pelfrey, the ninth grade English teachers.

“We wanted the students to witness the play in its entirety as well as see it acted out on a stage in a real theater,” Ms. Pelfrey said.

Pelfrey said that since more than a quarter of the students who attended the play had never been to a play before, this experience was exciting.  

After seeing the play at the theater, the students who said they “completely understood” the play rose from 34 percent to 60 percent.

“I loved the play!  I could understand it better when I got to see all of the characters’ emotions,” student Liz Adams said. “It was a really good experience for everyone.”

The Cincinnati Shakespeare Company changed the setting of the play to modern dayVerona, including strobe lights and thumping dance music.  

“Using a more modern setting was a wonderful idea to get a younger audience to enjoy the play,” said ninth-grader Jordyn Miley.  

Tickets for an evening performance cost $22-$26 for students.

The Cincinnati Shakespeare Company acts out day performances for schools at only $10 a ticket.  However, the cost of driving three buses from Bethel to Cincinnati and back is nearly $700.

Students are not allowed to pay for the cost of buses so the teachers and Mrs. Arn, the high school principal, contacted outside organizations for help.  

The Bethel-Tate Parent-Teacher Organization donated $300, and The Greater Cincinnati Foundation donated $250.  Both organizations depend on the generosity of others.  

Pelfrey said that the students at Bethel-Tate can tell you how much your generosity is appreciated.