Unless you were there in the Folger Library's Elizabethan Theatre, you've never seen Shakespeare performed like it was for three days this week.

Pupils in the fourth, fifth and sixth grades from about 20 elementary schools in Washington and the Maryland and Virginia suburbs participated in a noncompetitive Children's Shakespeare Festival. Each troupe was on stage for 20 minutes performing scenes, abridgments or combinations--or, in two instances, Elizabethan music.

MetroScene dropped by yesterday and caught two enthusiastic performances: Washington's Shepherd School presented parts of two acts of "Hamlet" with Evan Anderson in the title role, and the Muslims' Sister Clara Muhammed School from the city's Shaw neighborhood performed scenes from "As You Like It," with an especially charming performance by Jeannine Robinson as Rosalind. A proud father was in the gallery shooting pictures of his daughter, Wadiyah Abdullah, who was featured in the final scene.

At the noon break, the casts from the four schools that performed yesterday morning paraded along East Capitol Street, with most cast members curtseying or bowing to the enthroned and exquisitely costumed Queen Elizabeth I (in real life, Kathryn Avery of Falls Church). She issued a royal pardon to Paul Baker, a murderer in the "Macbeth" cast from Grace Brethren Christian School of Temple Hills in Prince George's County, who prostrated himself at her feet. She also bestowed knighthood on Sir Evan, the previously mentioned Prince Hamlet, as his mother snapped a picture.

This is the fourth year Folger has sponsored the festival. This time, there was a special dividend: Yesterday, the CBS Morning News carried a taped segment of Tuesday's "Hamlet" performance by Arlington's Claremont School.

All's well that ends well!