By Karen Morfitt

WESTMINSTER, Colo. (CBS4) – The Colorado Shakespeare Festival is using theater to teach middle and high school students about tough issues like bullying. Amanda Giguere is the outreach director for Colorado Shakespeare Festival.

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She says their goal is to take their show across Colorado bringing live performances to every county in the state and as many schools as possible.

“These 400-year-old plays have a lot to say about how we treat one another, how we mistreat each other for sure, so they are interesting conversation starter,” she said.

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Eighth grader Autumn Torrez and classmates at the Academy Charter School in Westminster watched a live performance of Macbeth on Tuesday.

“It was confusing, but it was good,” she said.

Professional actors perform an abridged version of the iconic play, with a bigger lesson in mind. An idea that Giguere says started eight years ago.

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“We asked ‘can we use this play to talk about bullying?’ So we teamed up with some violence prevention researchers on the CU campus.” Giguere said. “We realized actually when you put Shakespeare and violence prevention together they work.”

The plot in Macbeth and other Shakespeare plays set the stage for a discussion about violence and even bullying.

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“I think it’s a creative way to show people my age, 13 and 14 (years old), like a perspective of being bullied,” Torrez said.

After the performance, the actors move into the classrooms. Working side by side with students through different scenarios.

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“They basically ask the kids ‘here’s a situation that Macbeth is in, here’s what Macbeth does, how you would do things differently?’” Giguere said.

While the dialogue may have been tough to follow at times, Torrez says at the end of the day the message was clear.

“That you don’t have to go with what other people say, but you could go with what you think is best,” she said.

Karen Morfitt

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