Seabury Hall’s sophomores produce another successful Shakespeare Festival

Seabury+Hall%27s+Class+of+2017+performed+scenes+from+a+selection+of+William+Shakespeare%27s+plays+on+Friday%2C+Dec.+5.+

Kay McLeod

Seabury Hall's Class of 2017 performed scenes from a selection of William Shakespeare's plays on Friday, Dec. 5.

Every year, Seabury Hall students find enthusiastic groups of sophomores scattered throughout the campus on the day of the Shakespeare Festival, which is usually held around Thanksgiving. Elizabethan costumes, elaborate sceneries, and entertaining skits are the essence of Seabury Hall’s Shakespeare festival, which took place this year on Friday, Dec. 5.

“It’s really fun because I was able to choose my scene and group. I haven’t been in a play since middle school,” sophomore Ana Lavangtheong said, who performed Act III and Scene II of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

This annual tradition has been going on for many years, and the sophomore English teachers hope to carry the celebration on in many more years to come. Sophomore English teachers Sally Sefton, Carson Strohecker, and Kay McLeod were the three teachers involved in the initial process by separating the students into groups and helping them perfect their lines and presentations.

Sophomore English teacher Kay McLeod said, “The weather made this year’s festival pretty special. It had been raining all week and we were lucky that it cleared up the day of the performances. We also had several students from Carden Academy that came to watch some of the plays.”

On the morning of the event, there was a special assembly in recognition of William Shakespeare. There was a skit performed by English teachers Todd Van Amburgh and Alan Hodara, and seniors Zeb Mehring and Zoe Harrelson. The group performed an adaption Act III, Scene I of “Hamlet.” Hodara played William Shakespeare, who visits noted Austrian psychologist Sigmund Freud (Van Amburgh) after experiencing distressing dreams. Mehring played Hamlet and Harrelson played Ophelia in Shakespeare’s visions.

After the skit, the entire sophomore class of 80 students stood in front of the school to display their detailed costumes.

“It was cool to see everyone’s different costumes. As a class I think we put a lot of effort into the whole thing,” said sophomore Ava Shipman, who performed Act I and Scene V of “Twelfth Night.”

To prepare for the event, sophomores formed groups within their English classes, and then chose a scene and act from one of Shakespeare’s plays to perform. They found specific locations on campus to perform, and spent several days in advance memorizing their lines and rehearsing their scenes. They first began rehearsing their scenes approximately two months in advance to Shakespeare Day. On the day of the performance, the students dressed themselves in Elizabethan costumes and added props to their settings.

“We practiced a lot for the performance. I enjoyed the entire process because it was much better than sitting in class taking tests and writing essays,” said sophomore Alyssa Walin.

Sefton said, “This year is a little different because of all the outside help we have. More faculty and students have contributed in the preparation by helping to set up backdrops for the plays, and providing rooms for the students to practice in. Ms. Kelly helped out a lot with directing the students with their scenes. Zeb, Zoe, and Mikela also got involved by performing in assembly.”

Sophomore Hana Diller said, “I haven’t had much involvement with plays in the past, so it’s a nice opportunity to try something new.” Her group performed Act I, Scene III of “Much Ado About Nothing.”

Sophomore Zander Medrano said, “I have been in several plays before. Shakespeare Day is different because it’s definitely downscaled from what I’m used to, which is nice because I can have fun with it rather than being stressed about the preparation.” Medrano and his group re-enacted Act III, Scene I of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

Not only do the students get to experience acting and performing in front of an audience, but they also learn about Shakespearean history and William Shakespeare’s best pieces of work. One of the most influential writers in the history of literature, Shakespeare demonstrates the essence of romantic tragedy. Shakespearean poetry is an interesting topic, and setting aside one day in the year to reflect on his literature and history marks the Shakespeare Festival as a significant event.

Sefton said, “My dream for the future is that everyone in the school will get involved in the Shakespeare festival. It would be great to have Seabury completely transformed for the event, and we could have different booths set up all around campus that reflect Shakespeare’s work.”