Harrisites experience virtual Shakespearean performance

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On April 29, Red Bull Theater held a live, online production of William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet for middle school and high school students. The incentive for this performance was to push forth the Shakespeare in Schools impetus project—a program that seeks to effectively introduce Shakespearean works through an interactive manner for creative development in youth. Harrisites were invited to watch the play during after-school hours.

The performance was free to watch, thus making it accessible for all audiences to enjoy. Sophomore Nicole Chen said, “Many students may not be as financially  advantaged so it’s really important that they make use of anything that is easily accessible to them—especially if it comes at no cost. It works in their favor and they really don’t have anything to lose.”

The event started off with a pre-workshop presentation that introduced the actors and prepared students for the concepts presented in Romeo and Juliet. English teachers Katherine Lipinski and Natali Frank arranged the pre and post workshops as part of their lesson plan. Students engaged in a storyline recapitulation session with the casted actors and explored adaptations of the plot. The following Tuesday after the performance, the teachers also held a post-workshop which was provided by the theater.

“As educators, we want to utilize numerous modalities of teaching in order to provide multiple access points for our students. When a lesson is interactive, students are able to comprehend and analyze the material on a deeper, more substantial level,” Ms. Lipinski said.

The performance took place at 4 pm and lasted an hour  to limit excessive screen-time from virtual learning. In its abridged nature, there were five casted actors that took on multiple character roles and omitted minor features and dramatis personae.

Ms. Frank said that she and Ms. Lipinski found it crucial for students to interact with the play as they are “developed to be performed and viewed.” 

“This opportunity also included the workshops that allowed the cast to interact with our students. We thought this experience would be meaningful for our students and provide a new perspective to a text we spent so much time analyzing in class,” she said.

Freshman Susan Yang watched the play and thought that the stream had “[done] the playwright justice.” “We were able to see the text come to life and I think it helped a lot of people better understand Shakespearean literature,” she said.

Romeo and Juliet is a classic that I think people should get around to reading at least once in their lifetime,” Nicole added. “As for accessibility, I believe that it’s not a difficult task to look for the play as the internet is almost accessible to all and provides almost anything that you would need. Not only that, but if some aren’t particularly interesting in reading, the story is told in all different types of mediums as it is pretty renowned.”