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For juveniles sentenced to Shakespeare, the world’s a stage

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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Some juvenile offenders in Massachusetts are offered a choice straight out of “Hamlet”: to act or not to act.

Shakespeare & Company, a theatre company in Lenox, works with the courts to get youngsters who run afoul of the law sentenced to perform works of Shakespeare on stage as an alternative to community service or juvenile detention.

For the last 17 years, Shakespeare in the Courts has been used to sentence youths accused of a variety of lower-level crimes, including larceny, vandalism and assault and battery.

The probation officers, teachers and others who work in the program hope it will help the teens fulfil a commitment and foster a sense of pride.

Eight teens will perform scenes and monologues from various Shakespeare plays on March 22.

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