Slaying, serving, and surviving Hamlet

Madelyn Conley, Co-Editor in Chief and Seneca Turechek, Co-Feature

29th November, 2022

Seniors pretending to be dead as they act out their roles in front
of the class
(Photo Credit: Madelyn Conley)

When you walk into room 206 you immediately feel comfortable and welcomed. We are both in sixth period AP English Lit taught by the legendary Alex Kantner. Most students might think that AP Lit is boring or full of literature by white, depressed, old men. 

However, Kantner puts a twist on the curriculum that makes it engaging and interesting even for seniors with high school burnout. We have just finished reading Hamlet by William Shakespeare, but throughout our reading we have been acting it out with our classmates.

 Whether that’s fencing in front of the class, laying on the ground pretending to be dead, or getting down on your knees and reciting the “To be or not to be” speech, it has been a fantastic experience. 

“Watching my friends get brutally fake murdered truly made me understand literary classics,” senior Dylan Wilkerson said. Other students in our class agree.

“It was really entertaining to watch people do it. I feel like there’s value in acting out plays in class,” senior Liam Hodgson said. These performances have connected us as a class and have created a supportive environment. 

“I thought that it helped us gain a better understanding of what was actually happening in the play because a lot of strange words are used but when we acted it out, we could get a better grasp on it,” senior Paolo Bosques-Paulet said. 

Now as our readings have come to an end, Kantner has assigned our AP Lit class small groups to act out a scene from the play, and perform it in front of the class. 

“I’m looking forward to giving it a more modern and fun twist,” senior Gabriela Davidson said. We are allowed to pick any scene from the play and put any twist that we want on it. Neither of us expected this class or this unit of Hamlet to be so interesting, but Kantner’s teaching methods have made this very engaging. 

“I loved acting out the scenes and am excited to keep doing it,” senior Sydney Hasselquist said. 

For those who haven’t read or watched Hamlet, this play is full of very disturbing and traumatic situations. Shakespeare tackles suicide, murder, loss, betrayal, mania, and other issues. 

We were at first hesitant about how we would react to these heavy topics, but Kantner has done an amazing job at explaining the deeper meaning of these issues, while being careful not to burden the class. 

“He’s the only teacher who asks me about my day,” Davidson said. We are very excited to see what the groups’ performances will look like and have been inspired by Kantner’s enthusiasm, and our class acting sessions to create something we feel proud of. 

“I love Kantner. I gave him a sword, I’ll give him another,” Wilkerson said.

Kantner and senior Elisha Green
reenacting the dueling scene from Hamlet (Photo Credit: Madelyn Conley)