Annual Shakespeare Festival returns after three years


Zoe Viterbo

TJ Theater Arts’ Ryan Lien points to Aiden Zurcher to demonstrate for the improvisation workshop as students gather around. “I really enjoyed the improvisation workshop, and I thought it was really cool,” freshman Asha Das said.

Hannah Liu, Staff Writer

On April 20 and 21, the Shakespeare Festival was held for freshmen to explore various workshops and activities within Shakespearean literature and theater. 

Following its three-year break since 2019, the event has since been continued for freshmen to better understand and immerse themselves in the literature they are reading, such as Romeo and Juliet and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. 

While many students aren’t particularly excited to read Shakespeare due to its intimidating and hard-to-understand language, the Shakespeare Festival sparks interest and excitement in students about what they are reading. 

“Every year students tend to be a bit surprised that they end up getting as into it as they do,” said English teacher Stephanie Glotfelty, an organizer of the festival. “Especially since we’re a STEM school, we get a lot of students thinking, ‘Ugh, Shakespeare,’ or ‘I’m never gonna understand it.’ But once they kind of get a hang of the language, especially with these actors from the Educational Theater coming in, I think that it ends up helping a lot. 

From stage combat to acting improvisation, a total of eleven workshops were incorporated into the festival. Students got to sign up for 3 activities that they participated in for 3 hours total. Several of these activities let students learn the performative elements of Shakespeare theater, where professional actors and TJ Theater Arts taught the workshops.

“We had professional actors come in and lead the workshops. It’s a group called the Educational Theater company, and they run workshops for all school aged people, elementary through high school. They’re professional regional actors, and their goal is to make theater and acting accessible to everybody,” Glotfelty said.

The Shakespeare Festival pushed for students to invest themselves into Shakespeare and feel more connected to the stories and text they are reading. Students felt more excited through these activities, whether it be learning to fake slap a friend, or learning the basics of directing a play.

“I went to playwriting, physical metaphor, and TJ Theater Arts improv. I enjoyed some of my activities a lot. Some of them I think could have been better, but I thought that it was a really cool experience and very different from regular school,” freshman Asha Das said. 

All in all, the reintroduction of the festival has allowed for the annual tradition to step back into rhythm and involve students to indulge in the literature they are studying. Several groups and people work in the background to make this event able to run, including the administration, Parent Teacher Student Association (PTSA), and Educational Theater company. 

“This is the 20th time we’re running this program, and we’ve been running it since I’ve been here, so this is my 11th year doing it. The educational theater company has been wonderful, and the quality of their workshops has always been really stellar. Our PTSA continues to fund it, which is also amazing. Administration is on board, and the entire freshman class can get involved in it. It’s a whole bunch of people working to make it happen,” said Glotfelty.