Shakespeare Day honors famous literary figure


Seniors Henry Lin and Laynie Calderwood perform a scene from Othello (top left).

Emily Ma and Rebecca Muratore, Staff Writers

Students poured into the auditorium on April 24 to experience Schreiber’s 23rd annual Shakespeare Day, a day dedicated to honoring the works of William Shakespeare.

“Shakespeare Day is awesome because it really brings together the Schreiber student body to commemorate a brilliant playwright,” said junior coordinator Milan Sani.

All throughout the day, there were numerous skits, performances, and videos shown in the auditorium, all of which students created to celebrate Shakespeare’s work. Simultaneously, competitions for best cupcakes, sonnet, mask, video, portrait, t-shirt, and scene were held.  Many of these competitions gave students who aren’t performers an opportunity to participate in this event.

Shakespeare Day requires a lot of preparation, and it required hard work from faculty coordinator and English teacher Ms. Donna Valenti, along with senior coordinators Sophie Brett-Chin, Jina Lay, Sameer Nanda, and Sabina Unni, and junior coordinators Mikayla Hyman, Zareen Johnson, Gabrielle Sanft, and Sani.

“The purpose of Shakespeare Day is to raise awareness of Shakespeare’s contribution to literature and theater for centuries, as well as to make students aware of the fact that his work is accessible and fun,” said Ms. Valenti.

To kick the day off, the student coordinators gave a performance of the annual “Shakespeare Day Song.”  They then followed with “60 Seconds of Shakespeare,” a brief overview of the plots of some of Shakespeare’s most popular plays.

Every year, Ms. Schulman’s theater arts class competes in a scene contest, in which students perform excerpts from the scenes of Shakespeare’s plays.  This year, seniors Laynie Calderwood and Henry Lin took first place with their dramatic interpretation of a scene from Othello.

One series played throughout the day, the winner of the video contest, was the installments of “Law and Order: Shakespeare Victims Unit,” created by Unni and Brett-Chin.  These videos took the idea behind a typical crime show scenario on television and gave it a Shakespearean twist.  Each video followed Mercutio and Benvolio as they attempt to figure out who committed the murder of Queen Anne. The three videos all had alternate endings, with a different murderer in each.

“Shakespeare Day shows the student body that Shakespeare isn’t such highbrow literature, but rather is quite relatable and comical,” said Sani.  “Everyone can relate to Shakespeare’s characters because they are so human.”

Another popular series of videos that played throughout the day was “Much Ado About the Dress.”  This segment highlighted how all of the conflicts in Shakespeare’s plays can relate back to the Internet controversy surrounding the infamous black/blue or white/gold dress.

Aside from the videos, students and faculty members performed skits, songs, and recited selections from Shakespeare’s body of works.  Many of those who performed songs took modern songs and related them to themes often found in Shakespeare’s plays.  Adding an interactive element to day, Brett-Chin and Calderwood invited audience members up on stage with them to act as love interests as they performed “Love Story” by Taylor Swift.

“I really liked how talented our student body is, how people are very talented in singing, acting, film making, script writing, and everything,” said Nanda.  “It was very impressive to me, because these are people that I see in the hallways and I don’t really know their true capabilities, but then I see them act on stage, or perform with a guitar, or with a mic, and see their true talents, and that’s very inspiring to me.”

In order to symbolize Hermia and Helena’s hostile relationship in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, sophomores Allison Winter and Anna Cohen performed the Pat Benetar song, “Hit Me With Your Best Shot.”

“After seeing Shakespeare Day last year I got really excited about it, because I love Shakespeare, so my friend Allison and I thought this would be a fun idea,” said Cohen.

Lay came up with the idea for “promposals.”  To imitate the nature of the creative and inventive proposals that are occurring throughout Schreiber, the various promposals at Shakespeare Day depicted popular Shakespearean characters asking each other to prom.

“I really liked doing my promposal for Shakespeare Day because I think that it’s a really fun take on a modern tradition,” said senior Elizabeth Muratore. “I had a lot of fun acting in Shakespeare Day, and I hope that for future Shakespeare Days, everyone tries to be a part of it because it is really fun to get in front of your peers and be silly.”

At the end of the day, the winners of the various contests were announced.  Freshman Dara Kaufman won first place for her mask, freshman Cameron Helman won for her sonnet, sophomore Maria Kogan won for best portrait, seniors Lena Kogan and Sally Kuan won for their t-shirt design, and the best cupcakes went to juniors Adeline Lerner and Julia Silver.

As the final performance of the day, the group Fireside Chats performed a rousing rendition of the Backstreet Boys’ “I Want It That Way.”

“My favorite part of Shakespeare Day was the Fireside Chats,” said Brett-Chin.  “It was a great moment to conclude our final Shakespeare Day, having everyone cheer and applaud, and it was nice to see the whole school riled up and very passionate about something we all love—the Backstreet Boys and Shakespeare.”

The group got attendees involved in the performance by brining a group of girls on stage.

“Shakespeare’s works are timeless,” said Nanda. “The fact that we are able to put on this day of events and experiences that everyone can enjoy, and truly experience with their own modern and quirky touches, while still have people enjoy and appreciate Shakespeare’s work is absolutely incredible and unparalleled to anything else.”