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This descriptive study was undertaken to determine if the use of performance fostered understanding of A Midsummer Night's Dream, engagement with Shakespeare's text, independence from the teacher, and a positive attitude toward the study of Shakespeare's plays among 39 ninth grade students. In a typical 90 minute period, students read scenes and participated in performance activities followed by discussion or written assignments for 15 days. The students were divided into acting companies to perform a final scene. Acting company meetings and performance activities were recorded. Students completed questionnaires concerning their attitudes toward the study of Shakespeare's plays. Students were interviewed and responded in writing as to their thoughts on the use of performance. The classroom teacher and the researcher kept journals of their perceptions. A panel of English teachers evaluated the students' written assignments with the aid of the Scoring Guide for the California Reading Assessment. They evaluated students' final performances with the aid of an evaluation guide modified from one found in Shakespeare Set Free: Teaching Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth and A Midsummer Night's Dream. The researcher analyzed student writing, transcripts from audio and video tapes, and the journals for evidence of understanding, engagement, independence and attitudes. According to the panel's evaluation, approximately three-fourths of the students demonstrated understanding of the text through their writing, their performance or both. An analysis of transcripts of performance activities and student writing indicated that students engaged with the text as evidenced by their ability to stage scenes justifying their choices with text. An analysis of transcripts of the acting companies' preparations for the final performance indicated that five of the eight acting companies demonstrated independence as evidenced by their ability to discuss the text without the teacher's aid. The questionnaire responses indicated that students had a positive attitude toward the study of Shakespeare's works. For these students, the use of performance appeared to be a viable method through which to study A Midsummer Night's Dream.