Second Graders Take On 'Macbeth,' Halloween

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On the eve of All Hallows Eve, second graders at Washington D.C.'s Maret School read Double, double, toil and trouble from Shakespeare's Macbeth. Adults also render a version of the passage from the play.


With Halloween fast approaching, people are pulling out their pumpkins and their costumes and lots of candy. We decided to pull out a little William Shakespeare to get us in a ghoulish mood.

(Soundbite of Shakespearean play "Macbeth")

Unidentified Children: Double, double, toil and trouble. Fire burn and cauldron bubble.

NORRIS: Second graders at the Maret School in Washington, D.C., reading the witch's chant from act four, scene one of William Shakespeare's "Macbeth." It's almost impossible for kids to read that chant without slipping into spooky characters as they recite the ingredients in that dreadful witch's brew. It's full throttle Shakespeare, robust in beat, rich in description.

(Soundbite of Shakespearean play "Macbeth")

Unidentified Man #1: Thrice the brinded cat hath mew'd. Thrice and once the hedge-pig whined. Harpier cries, 'tis time, 'tis time.

Unidentified Woman #1: Round about the cauldron go...

Unidentified Man #2: In the poison'd entrails throw. Toad, that under cold stone...

NORRIS: We found that even adults can't help but ham it up when we asked people on the street here in the nation's capital to read from Shakespeare's chant.

Unidentified Man #1: Liver of blaspheming Jew. Gall of goat and slips of yew. Sliver'd in the moon's eclipse. Nose of Turk and Tartar's lips. Finger of birth-strangled babe. Ditch-deliver'd by a drab.

Unidentified Man #3: Finger of birth-strangled babe. Ditch-deliver'd by a drab.

Unidentified Woman #2: Make the gruel thick and slab.

Unidentified Man #1: Make the gruel thick and slab. Add there to a tiger's chaudron, for the ingredients of our cauldron.

Unidentified People in Unison: Double, double toil and trouble, fire burn and cauldron bubble. Cool it with a baboon's blood, then the charm is firm and good.

NORRIS: Impromptu Shakespeare theater there from Jess Winfield(ph), Kim Torrell(ph), Toni and Wayne Bay(ph), Walter and Janet Stevens(ph), Eliezer Sagi(ph), Jonathan Taylor(ph) and Ann Fitz Charles(ph) in Washington, D.C.

(Soundbite of Shakespearean play "Macbeth")

Unidentified Children: Eye of newt and toe of frog, wool of bat and tongue of dog.

NORRIS: Back at the Maret School, the second graders said their Shakespeare assignment was fun and frightful.

(Soundbite of Shakespearean play "Macbeth")

Unidentified Children: Lizard's leg and howlet's wing.

NORRIS: When you all read this, what is the spookiest, scariest part?

Unidentified Boy #1: Probably toe of frog.

Unidentified Girl #1: Fire burn and cauldron bubble.

Unidentified Girl #2: Lizard's leg.

Unidentified Boy #2: Howlet's wing.

Unidentified Girl #3: Tongue of dog.

NORRIS: How does it make you feel?

Unidentified Boy #4: If I read it late at night, I would get really scared.

Unidentified Girl #3: I will feel like I'm about to barf.

Unidentified Boy #5: I will get all freaked out.

Unidentified Boy #6: I think that I would feel plain disgusted.

Unidentified Girl #4: I think it's bad and good. It's bad because it has a bad word in it, and it's good because I can use a scary voice.

Unidentified Girl #5: I think this is my favorite poem that I've ever said.

(Soundbite of Shakespearean play "Macbeth")

Unidentified Children: In the cauldron boil and bake, eye of newt and toe of frog, wool of bat and tongue of dog.

NORRIS: Second grade Shakespeare scholars at Maret School in Washington, D.C. They are Niara Mondesat(ph), Fiona Williams(ph), Gigi Seagal(ph), Ilana Quelawolfe(ph), Clay Steinhilbert(ph), Daniel Helpert(ph), Brooke Daniel(ph), Alexander Austin(ph), Jack Greenberg(ph), Lexy Winethrob(ph), Storie Hantoffe(ph), Christopher Laport(ph), and my own little goblin, Norris Johnson(ph). Special thanks to second grade teacher, Ashby Litz(ph).

(Soundbite of Shakespearean play "Macbeth")

Unidentified Children: Adder's fork and blindworm's sting, lizard's leg and howlet's wing. For charm of powerful trouble, like a hell-broth boil and bubble. Double, double toil and trouble. Fire burn and cauldron bubble.

NORRIS: Happy Halloween.

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