WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., April 6, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Weekly Reader, a Readers Digest Association (RDA) company and leading publisher of classroom magazines, has teamed with The Ophelia Project, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to creating safe social climates for teenagers, to present a Shakespeare play on Facebook. The project explores social media as an educational tool and will send a powerful message about cyberbullying to today's plugged-in students.
In celebration of Shakespeare's April birthday, over three days beginning April 26, the editors of Weekly Reader's literary magazine, READ, will present Much Ado About Nothing via posts, status updates, comments, links, and video. This production will also include an animated hip-hop video by Flocabulary. All information can be found at http://www.weeklyreader.com/ado.
The first-of-its-kind "social media theater" production will be delivered with help from students in the White Plains High School drama club. By interacting with the play's characters, social-network style, today's teens will discover that Shakespeare's art is timeless, infinitely adaptable, and relevant to their lives.
"We're excited to present a 16th-century play in a 21st-century medium to explore the age-old topic of bullying," says Ira Wolfman, senior VP of editorial at Weekly Reader. "We hope teachers, students and parents will join us in creating this modern, groundbreaking production."
Latest reports from the Cyberbullying Research Center estimate that anywhere from 10 to 40 percent of teens experience cyberbullying. In Much Ado, a malicious rumor nearly ruins a young girl's life, and while kids and teens today face similar slanders, bullying has been taken to a new level through technologies that allow people to spread hate anonymously to massive online audiences.
"Cyberbullying is a serious issue for today's youth, so we're very excited to bring this message into their territory and language," said Jessica Semler, program coordinator for The Ophelia Project. "From a literary standpoint, it is great to show how relevant and spot-on Shakespeare still is."
The play will be updated to a modern setting with teen characters facing contemporary interpretations of the play's classic challenges. To follow along, 'Like' the READ Magazine Facebook page at http://facebook.com/readmagazine. To learn more about the performance and "Like" all the characters, visit http://weeklyreader.com/ado. The Ophelia Project will update their Facebook page at http://facebook.com/opheliaproject during the live performance with information regarding the social aggressions the play's characters face.
About the Play
In Much Ado, the villainous Don John destroys an innocent girl's impending marriage by conspiring with others to make her appear unfaithful. The girl, Hero, fakes her own death to escape the scorn of her fiance and family until the truth can be revealed and the lovers can be reunited. Much Ado also features the memorable characters of Beatrice and Benedick, who start the play at each other's throats and learn to love each other through some clever trickery on the part of their friends.
About READ magazine
READ is a literary classroom publication for middle and high school students. Each issue of READ includes a reader's theater play, a work of fiction and/or a work of nonfiction, writing tools, literary analysis, and much more. READ earned acclaim in recent years for its unique interactive online materials. Subscribers to READ gain access to a full archive of literary Web sites dedicated to the likes of William Shakespeare, Edgar Allan Poe, Mark Twain, Geoffrey Chaucer, student writing, Greek mythology, and much more. For more information on READ magazine visit www.weeklyreader.com/read. To subscribe, visit http://www.weeklyreader.com/pubstore/pc-16-3-readreg.
About Weekly Reader Publishing
Weekly Reader has been creating cutting-edge, curriculum-rich materials read by tens of millions of children since 1902. The company's unique digital products and 11 award-winning classroom magazines provide teachers with tools that help them achieve their goals while inspiring, informing, and engaging students. Weekly Reader publications today reach 200,000 teachers and 6 million students. All periodicals are available to subscribers in print and online in dynamic digital editions with interactive learning elements. In addition to grade-specific Weekly Reader elementary periodicals, the company publishes Current Events, Current Health, Current Science, and READ magazines for middle- and high-school students. Weekly Reader is part of the Reader's Digest Association, Inc. For more information, visit www.weeklyreader.com.
About Reader's Digest Association
RDA is a global media and direct marketing company that educates, entertains and connects more than 130 million consumers around the world with products and services from trusted brands. With offices in 44 countries, the company reaches customers in 78 countries, publishes 90 magazines, including 50 editions of Reader's Digest, the world's largest-circulation magazine, operates 83 branded websites and sells nearly 40 million books, music and video products across the world each year. www.rda.com.
About The Ophelia Project
The Ophelia Project is a national non-profit organization founded in 1997 and based in Erie, Pennsylvania. It is dedicated to serving youth and adults who are affected by relational and other non-physical forms of aggression by providing them with a unique combination of tools, strategies and solutions. The Ophelia Project provides original curricula, programs, and services to help schools, community organizations and workplaces reduce relational aggression and establish a safe social climate. Visit www.opheliaproject.org.
Flocabulary is a small educational publishing company with a strong commitment to making a positive social impact. Since 2005, Flocabulary has been creating original hip-hop music and standards-based curricular materials to teach academic content for grades 3–12. Flocabulary programs are proven to increase student motivation and achievement and are currently being used in over 10,000 schools nationwide. Visit http://www.flocabulary.com.