Email this articleE-mail this story  Discuss this articleWrite letter to editor  Discuss this articleOrder a classified ad  Print this page

Breathing life into the bard

Darrell Greer
Northern News Services

Baker Lake (Dec 07/05) - Shakespeare: That one word can send a room full of students into fits of yawning, but not in Baker Lake.

There the students have claimed Shakespeare for their own, translating scenes from Macbeth and Hamlet into Inuktitut and performing them for their classmates.

Lynn Goodwin is their English teacher, and said Hamlet is full of heavy themes: murder, ghosts, political intrigue and love.

"With Hamlet, Hamlet is thinking about suicide at the beginning of the play, I introduce that," said Goodwin.

The themes in Macbeth are universal, the quest for power crosses all cultures. Goodwin uses an Inuit movie to help make the connection.

"I think Macbeth ties into Atanarjuat The Fast Runner," she said. "You can take things from these plays."

Her students certainly agree with her.

"We learned that if you want, things can happen," said student Dwayne Haqpi.

Music is one of the tools Goodwin uses to bring the plays to life for the students. Using the plays like movies, students develop their own soundtrack. They have to explain why each song fits the scene.

"We get everything from Pink to Tupac to classical music, they have to try and justify why they chose that song," said Goodwin.

The students and their teacher did break one of the basic rules of Shakespeare, you aren't supposed to say Macbeth's name out loud for fear of bad luck.

"We said it all the time," laughed Goodwin.

"If we were going to stage it, we would follow the rule."

Shakespeare was written to be performed, and Goodwin's students took that to heart.

Three of her senior students translated a scene from Hamlet into Inuktitut and performed it for the class.

"It doesn't sound any different, the rhythm is the same. Those boys showed a lot of guts getting up there in front of their classmates," said Goodwin.

"I wasn't nervous, it was just our classmates," said Casimir Euneuaq, one of the three performers.

They worked hard, it took nearly a month to convert the scene into Inuktitut.

"We translated it because nobody had ever done that before," explained student Moses Niuqeuq.