Tyrone Students Update Shakespeare in Film

Shakespeare has been a part of the high school English curriculum for as long as anyone can remember, and while the themes and lessons in his sonnets and plays are timeless, keeping the Bard relevant to teenagers is a constant challenge for every high school English teacher.

About 10 years ago, Tyrone English teacher Kathy Beigle and her students came up with a project to make the “old-timer” a little bit more fun.

Beigle challenged her students to create short films and artwork to bring Shakespeare’s Hamlet to life. As an alternative to a traditional essay, students were given the option to produce a 4-6 minute video of a particular act and scene, including a two-page analysis of the scene from each cast member.

“I thought their video was very funny and creative, I could tell you put a lot of work in it,” said Beigle.

I thought their video was very funny and creative, I could tell they put a lot of work in it,

— Mrs. Kathy Beigle

Because her honors class is much smaller than most years, only one group of students took on the challenge to produce a video.

The students involved in the video were Tyler Beckwith, Nathan Walk, Dan Parker, and Brent McNeel. They assigned themselves each a role and filmed in Parker’s back yard.

Nathan Walk was Hamlet, Tyler Beckwith portrayed Laertes, Brent McNeel was Gertrude and Horatio, Dan Parker was Claudius, and they all took turns recording and manning the camera.

The boys all reported having a good time producing the film. The imaginative concepts and comedic approach made the video enjoyable.  A comment on the video by junior English teacher Mr. Everhart stated, “Ye fops hath found thy calling.”

“I think we did a very good job considering we filmed it in one day after school, the day before it was due” said Beckwith.

Of course, some adaptations had to be made to accommodate modern times and laws. The poison was substituted out for cheese and the blood in the video was ketchup.

“Yes, it was difficult to adapt such a grand piece of art to today’s culture,”said McNeel, “Let me tell you this, the Parmesan did not go down easy.”

The remainder of students in the honors class chose to write the essay instead of filming an act from the play.