Freshmen participate in annual Shakespeare Festival


During the “Directing” session of Jefferson’s annual Shakespeare Festival, freshmen in the Nobel Commons gather to observe different viewpoints.

Angie Sohn and Lilia Qian

Freshmen studying Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet participated in the school’s annual Shakespeare Festival. The festival took place on April 28-29. Celebrating Shakespeare’s birthday, the festival provided several Shakespearean-themed activities to illustrate the culture of Elizabethan times.  

Twelve activities were organized for the event, and freshmen were given a choice of attending three hour-long sessions. Activities included, but were not limited to, learning stage combat, Elizabethan dance, improvisational comedy, poetry, language, characterization, and directing. The festival invited professionals with expertise to guide the activities, giving freshmen a chance to enjoy the theatrical, cultural, and literary aspects of Romeo and Juliet.

“I participated in ‘The Clowns of Shakespeare,’ ‘Speak the Speech,’ and ‘Monologue,’” freshman Thomas Porter said. “I learned a lot and it was really fun and entertaining.”

In the activity “Speak the Speech”, students learned more about the rhythm and musicality of Shakespearean language. They analyzed various excerpts from Shakespeare’s work, and examined unique ways of expressing the lines.

“It was pretty cool to learn about scansion and meter and expressing words,” freshman Anjalika Chalamgari said. “We have to do acting monologues for English class so this was pretty helpful. ”

“Performative Poetic Devices” involved students analyzing the punctuation of the text in order to gain a better understanding of characterization, while “Directing” gave students a chance to take on the role of director in order to create a scene from Romeo and Juliet. “Monologue” taught students about the distinct art forms of auditioning and acting, elaborating on how actors must combine their training and interpretation into a sixty-second audition.

“I really enjoyed ‘Monologue’, freshman Amrit Gorle said. “I really learned how actors have to be when they go to an audition.”

“Stage Combat,” on the other hand, taught basic unarmed stage combat techniques, incorporating skills into the opening fight of Romeo and Juliet.

“I think ‘Stage Combat’ was probably the most [memorable],” freshman Alison Duan said. “It was just really fun in general, and super hands-on. It gave me some insight on how things are really done onstage during an unarmed fight scene.”

Given the opportunity to participate in just three of twelve activities, students were given a difficult choice, and some missed out on activities. Nonetheless, they were glad that they were able to partake in the experience and learn more about this classic literary novel.

“‘Stage Combat’ received high approval rates by the populous, and that sounded fun, but I didn’t do it,” Porter said. “That would’ve been cool, but I don’t really regret anything.”