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“Shakespeare in the Zoom”: R. Bruce Wagner Elementary Students Stage “Romeo and Juliet” While Distance Learning

“Shakespeare in the Zoom”: R. Bruce Wagner Elementary Students Stage “Romeo and Juliet” While Distance Learning

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An R. Bruce Wagner Elementary student performing "Romeo and Juliet."

Lois Horn Diaz, a teacher at R. Bruce Wagner Elementary, is known for casting her gifted students in creative productions of Shakespeare plays.

Last year, they tackled “Macbeth.” This year, it’s a special pandemic “Shakespeare in the Zoom” version of “Romeo and Juliet.”

If you’re not a big fan of the Bard’s work, we still urge you to check out this adaptation by RBW students. It’s genuinely funny — one of the early clashes between the Capulets and Montagues is set to the 1974 classic, “Kung Fu Fighting.” The dialogue is a hilarious mix of Shakespeare’s original work and … contemporary speech.

The whole thing was pieced together with dozens of individual Zoom recordings. The RBW students and their families had to learn lines, create costumes and build green screen sets, all while social distancing.

As part of their lessons, the students also learned how Shakespeare created some of his most important works in quarantine during outbreaks of the plague.

“I have tried to keep my students creatively learning during their time at home,” says Horn-Diaz, the 2017 Polk County Teacher of the Year. As to why she challenged her students to attempt a production of “Romeo and Juliet” under such unusual conditions, Horn-Diaz offers a simple answer:

“Because the show must go on.”