This year, we will be performing another Shakespearean comedy, Much Ado About Nothing. It centers around two couples: Hero and Claudio, and Benedick and Beatrice. Claudio and Hero fall in love almost instantly, while Benedick and Beatrice have to be tricked into admitting their affection for each other. Things are not all rosy for Hero, though: much of the play is about how Claudio is deceived as to Hero's character by the wicked Don John, and how Hero's family and friends set about to make things right.
We have some wonderful returning cast members from last year's A Midsummer Night's Dream, as well as some fantastic newcomers. There's a lot of friendly chemistry between our main cast members, and enthusiasm all across the board.
Doing a Shakespeare play is certainly a challenge, but it's amazing to see how these students - ranging in age this year from 12 to 16 - rise to meet it head on. The beginning weeks are often full of "what exactly am I saying here?" but once explained, they are able to fill those lines with force and meaning, taking words that were written over 400 years ago and making it fun and lively. The most fun are almost always the insults, like the following exchange between Beatrice and Benedick.
"I had rather hear a dog bark at a crow than a man swear he loves me."
"God keep her ladyship still in that mind! so some gentleman or other shall 'scape a predestinate scratched face."
"Scratching could not make it worse, an 'twere it such a face as yours were."
Rehearsals are always a laugh, whether it is Maria Klucinec (one of our two Heros) learning how to swoon, Alex Kalpakgian (Benedick) 'conveniently' getting a bloody nose before having to kiss Bernadette's (Beatrice) hand, and the many hilariously mispronounced words ("constipation" instead of "consumption").
I had considered doing a different style of play this year, but ultimately, I knew I wanted to do Shakespeare again. Last year was a challenge in many ways, but the pay-off was completely worth it. I think it's important that we can challenge our students in all things, not only academics and sports. To get up in front of an audience, performing a work from one of the most revered authors in the English language, takes a lot of guts - but these students have that aplenty. Some may dismiss Shakespeare as "old-fashioned" or boring, but we, at least, are enjoying it!