LAYTON -- When William Shakespeare wrote "A Midsummer Night's Dream," he couldn't have known how the play would benefit the self-esteem of elementary school students 400 years later.
Students at Whitesides Elementary School portrayed kings, queens, fairies and nymphs Wednesday during their unique adaptation of the classic Shakespeare play.
The 60 young actors spent months memorizing and rehearsing the tricky language, adding their own modern interpretations to bring the words to life.
Along the way, children were able to conquer their fears and develop their hidden and promising talents.
While the bulk of the show was filled with lines from Shakespeare's original text, the school added a narrator to explain the meaning of the language of the playwright's time.
Queen Elizabeth, played by 11-year-old Livy Alvey, frequently stopped the show to explain what the characters were saying and doing. Occasionally, she would offer her critical opinion of the actions of the characters, thereby creating an entertaining exchange with the other actors.
Several musical numbers and some comedic stylizing added to the uniqueness of the production.
"If (the kids) do something silly, and it makes us all laugh, I try to stick it in," said Ruby Rae Horne, school counselor and director of the play.
"The more they contribute, the more it becomes their play."
Horne has directed a Shakespeare play every year for the past 15 years, 10 of those years at Whitesides.
She said she tries to stay with the comedies, as they are more appealing to the elementary school students.
"I've seen so many kids gain courage and confidence," Horne said. "I can teach social skills lessons in the classroom, but this gives them a medium to apply the lessons I teach."
Shannon Dewsnup, who has had two sons participate in Horne's productions, echoed the benefits of the plays.
Her boys were very shy and quiet before they performed Shakespeare, not even wanting to knock on neighbors' doors to ask other kids to play.
Everything changed after Shakespeare.
"They are not afraid to get in front of people anymore," Dewsnup said. "It's completely changed. Their self-esteem has just shot up, and it's just totally changed their lives."
Several students commented on how much fun it was to participate in the play with their friends. Many of them had never acted before and felt it was easier to do around peers they knew and trusted.
Sam Bair, 12, explained how his hands and legs shook with nervousness when he auditioned in December.
He said it became easier as he worked with his friends and teachers.
"It's so fun. I wouldn't trade it back to not do it," he said.
When asked how they came to understand the meaning of Shakespeare's language, the students cited sources such as their parents and the Internet.
However, Yusuf Quraish, 11, put it best when he said, "Ms. Horne is the dictionary of Shakespeare. I just asked her."