Imagine the sight and sound of American nine- and eleven-year-old children performing Shakespeare's Hamlet or Henry V - and understanding every word they recite. Imagine them performing well enough to elicit praise from such accomplished Shakespearean actors as Ian McKellen and Michael York, and to be invited to perform with the Royal Shakespeare Company in England. Such a spectacle would be highly impressive in the toniest of America's private schools. But what if the kids were the children of recent Latino and Asian immigrants attending a large Los Angeles inner-city public school in one of America's toughest neighborhoods?
That is the astonishing story told by the documentary The Hobart Shakespeareans which discovers how one man's uncommon commitment and resourcefulness have opened up worlds of opportunity for his "disadvantaged" students — and perhaps have demonstrated a way forward for America's beleaguered public education system.
More information about The Hobart Shakespeareans including the official trailer can be found on the PBS/POV website.