25th annual Shakespeare Day shakes things up

Students and faculty gather to celebrate the works of William Shakespeare


Emilia Charno

Senior coordinators Sarah DeMarino, Emilia Charno, Christian Hill, and Anna Cohen have helped to coordinate the past two Shakespeare Days with Ms. Valenti.

Rebecca Muratore, Assistant News Editor

On Friday, April 21, students gathered to celebrate the 25th annual Shakespeare Day at Schreiber. Shakespeare Day, which is usually celebrated around the time of William Shakespeare’s birthday, April 23, is dedicated to celebrating his body of works and showing just how accessible and inspirational his works have been over the years.

Over the course of the day, students and faculty participated in and observed competitions, skits, videos, and musical performances that evoked common Shakespearean themes and parodied some of his most famous works.

“Shakespeare Day is a beloved event because it’s uniting,” said senior Sarah DeMarino. Whether people are familiar with his works or not, they find themselves more interested in him by the time they leave.”

Months of preparation go into Shakespeare Day every year. English teacher and faculty coordinator Ms. Donna Valenti is in charge of running the event, along with the student coordinators. The student coordinators include seniors Anna Cohen, Christian Hill, Sarah DeMarino, Emilia Charno, and juniors Julia Gurlitz, Isabelle Verdino, Julia McCormack, and Sarah Mannix.

“I wanted to be a Shakespeare Day coordinator because since freshman year, I’ve loved the way the entire school comes together with spirit and excitement to celebrate such a major character in history,” said Gurlitz. “I wanted to be a part of that magic!”

Although Shakespeare Day usually takes place in the auditorium, construction on the auditorium this year meant that the location had to be changed to the gym. The coordinators began planning for Shakespeare Day for months in advance.

In preparation for the event, the coordinators each put together two different projects, and recruited teachers and student performers to get involved. Throughout the day, these various musical performances, skits, and videos were shown.

“I practiced a lot with my friends to make sure that my performances went well, and I met with Ms. Valenti to space out the events in the day,” said Hill.

To kick off the day, the coordinators performed the “Shakespeare Day Song,” a Shakespeare Day tradition. This was then followed by videos such as “Hamlet in the Crosswalk,” and “Romeo and Juliet in the Crosswalk,” parodies of the crosswalk musical videos put on by James Corden. Other popular videos shown throughout the day included “Macbeth(amilton),” performed by senior Jay Peierls, episodes of “Shakespearean Dating Game” and “The Bardchelor,” and “Bard-Like Issues at JFK.”

“Shakespeare Day is a whirlwind and I always find myself overcome with joy,” said Cohen. “All the coordinators really just let go and have fun. It can be embarrassing to perform in front of a big crowd sometimes, but never with a group that enjoys it this fully.”

“To Be Determined… Or Not To Be Determined” was a skit that detailed the trials and tribulations of William Shakespeare as he attempts to audition actors for a play. Another popular skit was performed by the Schreiber administrators, as they entertained students with a scene from As You Like It. “Shakespearean Ex-Besties in Competition” featured pairs of students acting as Shakespearean characters who were in conflict, who then competed in a free-throw contest against another pair of “ex-besties.” This particular event got the audience excited as they cheered for the different competitors.

While the festivities continued in the gym, Ms. Schulman’s Theatre Arts class participated in the scene contest in the Commons third period. Students in the class had prepared scenes from various Shakespeare plays in eleven groups, and then performed in costume to a panel of judges. The winning scene was a scene from Twelfth Night, performed by senior Julia Hayden and junior Alissa Salerno.

In addition to the videos and skits, musical performances included a selection of songs from the musical Something Rotten, and a Shakespeare-inspired Disney Medley.

“The performance that required the most preparation for me this year was my Shakespeare-inspired Disney Medley with Ms. Foster-Holzer and Sarah DeMarino,” said Cohen. “I arranged the medley and we rehearsed frequently. It was extremely rewarding to perform with them.”

A Project Runway competition was also held. In the days leading up to Shakespeare Day, groups of three were tasked with constructing outfits that represented different Shakespearean characters.

During 5th period, the teams then presented the outfits on the models and explained their inspiration. The crowd cheered for whichever outfit they thought was the winner. Team Titania, comprised of junior Adi Levin and sophomores Jolie Bercow and August Zeidman, came out on top.

“My favorite part of Shakespeare Day is the fact that we are able to turn something that so many people feel is old or boring, and prove that Shakespeare is still extremely relevant in modern culture and that celebrating him can be a blast,” said Gurlitz.

In its 25th year, Shakespeare Day continues to be one of Schreiber’s most beloved school events, and students and faculty alike look forward to it every April when Shakespeare’s birthday comes around.

“I love that Shakespeare Day is an opportunity to make the work accessible for a wider audience,” said Cohen. It’s also a great opportunity for the coordinators to see what it’s like to run a large scale, full-day event. It’s a lot of work, but the celebration of theatre is worth it.”