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The news site of Glenbrook South High School.

The Oracle

The news site of Glenbrook South High School.

The Oracle

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Parapro helps bring Shakespeare to life; students value experience

The Chicago Shakespeare Theater was built to resemble the Globe Theater in  London. Instead of having to stand for three hour plays, there are plush green seats surrounding the stage. Three or four times a year, some of  these seats are filled with South students and the man with the idea to  bring them there: paraprofessional Paul Burkhardt.

In 1993, the Chicago Shakespeare Theater lowered the prices for student matinees. Ever since then, Burkhardt has been taking members of the club Shakespeare and Co. as well as other students.

“I posed [the idea] to Dr. Shellard, and he said, ‘Yes, set that up,’” Burkhardt said.

According to Burkhardt, he created Shakespeare and Co. to enjoy Shakespeare, to compete and to see performances.

“Everybody reads it,” Burkhardt said. “Everybody reads Romeo and Juliet, I understand that. What makes Shakespeare literally come alive is to see [his plays] on stage.”

Since the 2012-2013 year started, Shakespeare and Co. has traveled to the Chicago Shakespeare Theater to see Romeo and Juliet and Julius Caesar, as well as to Northwestern University to see The Verona Project and My Fair Lady. According to Burkhardt, he looks for other opportunities to see Shakespeare’s plays.

“Our first play that we saw this year was Hamlet, which was up in Glencoe,” Burkardt said. “We sat really close; you could almost reach out and touch the actors.”

Senior Jordan Scherer, Shakespeare and Co. president, has been involved since her sophomore year. According to Scherer, Burkhardt is very committed to his role as club advisor.

“He goes above and beyond to schedule and organize opportunities for students to see Shakespeare’s plays,” Scherer said.

According to vice president junior Robert Poyser, Burkhardt has a program at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater named after him. This  program reduces the price of tickets so that schools can send kids to  attend their Shakespeare plays.

According to Burkhardt, who received his theater degree at Northwestern University, he is known around South for his thorough knowledge of Shakespeare.

“You can’t be a person of the theater without being a person of Shakespeare,” Burkhardt said.

According to Scherer, Burkhardt has always been interested in discussing Shakespeare, and he always knows what he’s talking about.

The best thing about Burkhardt as the club advisor, according to Poyser, is his love of theater and him  desire to share that with everyone in Shakespeare and Co and at South.

“Without him, there wouldn’t be a way to watch theater outside of South at the professional and college level,” Poyser said.

Burkhardt expressed how flattering the positive feedback from the club’s field trips has been from students.

“Students stop me in the hallway and ask me when the next field trip is,” he said.

According to Burkhardt, the club has grown enormously from when it first started in 1993.

“When it started, I had two or three students in my car when we drove to the Shakespeare Theater,” Burkhardt said. “And now, I had to limit the last couple of field trips because we had one bus for 44 students.”

Burkhardt’s love for Shakespeare started in his freshman year of high school when he read Romeo and Juliet for class.

“I think [Shakespeare] would be happy if he knew that half of the world was reading Romeo and Juliet,” Burkhardt said. “But, I think what he would say what he would really like to have happen is for the students to see a performance of Romeo and Juliet because that’s what he intended.”

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