Annual Shakespeare week takes school by storm

Bradley Bennett, Staff Writer

Last week, Upper Division students shook up the school by participating in the second annual Shake It Up event, performing Shakespeare scenes in all three divisions.

In previous years, Shakespeare has been spread throughout the divisions through pop-up performances, planned scene sharing between English classes, and a school-wide production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, English Teacher Dr. Adam Casdin said.

The English Department wanted to take a new, more intimate approach to Shake It Up week, he said.

“We took scenes that we had developed in class and develop them for a very particular audience to create a much more intimate connection between audience and actor,” Casdin said.

Although Shakespeare is often discussed inside the classroom, the goal of Shake It Up week is to “allow Shakespeare into the social and the everyday life of the school,” he said.

“Shake It Up week is a time for faculty and students to see their work in class come to fruition through performance,” English Department Chair Vernon Wilson said.

Luke Weber (11) performed the “Advice to the Players” scene from Hamlet with his English class, which was recorded and appeared in a video presentation at last week’s assembly.

“Having that experience and working with my character and my mind was really powerful, and it made me see Shakespeare and theatre in a new light,” Weber said.

“I was able to put myself in Hamlet’s shoes and by doing so gain a deeper understanding of the play,” Weber said.

Eli Scher (10) performed a scene from Much Ado About Nothing with his English class.

“I think Shake It Up week is a great opportunity for students to explore Shakespeare because his plays were meant to be performed and not just read,” Scher said.

“This year not as many students were aware of Shake It Up week, however many of the students were still able to engage with Shakespeare by seeing the performances on video around campus,” Wilson said.

Shake It Up week helps the community “appreciate that Shakespeare is not just on the page, and must be inhabited, livid, and acted in a dynamic way,” English Teacher Dr. Deborah Kassel said.

Emma Djoganopoulos (10) participated in a performance of a scene from Othello. “It was cool to see the other classes do the same scene and compare it to how we interpreted the scene,” Djoganopoulos said.

“Performing forces you to think about where the characters are standing and their body language, which gives you a deeper understanding of the scene,” she said.

“With the help of the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC), we can learn how to treat Shakespeare as a breathing force instead of an untouchable document,” Kassel said.