To Zoom or not to Zoom? Schreiber hosts virtual Shakespeare Day

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Emily Djohan, Staff Writer

Shakespeare Day is an annual holiday on Apr. 23, the day Shakespeare was born and the day he died.  Shakespeare’s first plays are believed to have been written circa 1592.  Since then his pieces have fallen into three categories: tragedy (Macbeth and King Lear), comedy (Twelfth Night and A Midsummer Night’s Dream) and history (Henry V and Richard III).  He is known for his frequent use of iambic pentameter, soliloquies, and clever wordplay.  Schreiber’s Shakespeare club hosts a day full of festivities every year in honor of Shakespeare’s birth and death day.

In a typical year, Shakespeare day would happen in the school auditorium and include live and recorded skits, sonnet readings, music, and performances from both staff and students.  However, due to the pandemic, English teacher Ms. Donna Valenti and her Shakespeare Day coordinators had to get more creative.  This year’s Shakespeare Day was completely virtual and available through a livestream.  A majority of the skits, songs, and dances were pre-filmed either socially distanced or through an online platform like Zoom with the occasional game providing variety in the schedule.   

 “Preparing for Shakespeare Day was such a wonderful way to unite students across grades and white and blue teams.  Though it was tricky to adapt everything to a virtual format, all those involved worked incredibly hard and had a lot of fun.  I think the event went really well!  I had a blast celebrating my peers’ creativity, and the Bard, of course,” said junior Hannah Brooks.

The team involved with creating Shakespeare day is Ms.Valenti and her Shakespeare day coordinators (seniors Gavin Shaub, Lilly Labella, Susana Noto, Eloise Griffin and juniors Hannah Brooks, Lara Ozcayir, Talya Pecullan, Ellie Shapiro).  The coordinators organized virtual collaborations with students from drama club, theater arts, the FACS department, faculty members, andome Schreiber alumni.  The collaboration with the FACS department involved a skit called “A Virtual Tea Party” followed by a presentation from the FACS department with two scone recipes, while  Schreiber alumni Hannah Siskin, Jules Kranin, and Robbie Meade were involved with “Shakespeare Closet Tour”, “Your Obedient Servant” and “If Shakespeare had written The Office” respectively. 

 “Getting to see our performances was especially rewarding because we could at last tell that we had contributed our time and effort to something fun and unique,” said junior Natalie Parker, who played Hamlet in the “Virtual Tea Party” skit. 

Other performances included a choreographed dance, a variety of skits, an original song, as well as some monologue readings by Schreiber staff.  In addition, this year’s Shakespeare day had many interactive games including “Jeopardy: Shakespeare-Translator” and “Taylor Swift or Shakespeare Quote?”  There were over 50 different events.

“It was difficult this year.  I have been a part of Shakespeare Day since I was a freshman and it was really fun to make videos with friends.  However, in my first year as a coordinator we were hit hard by the pandemic.  We had to adapt to a virtual platform and that came with coordination and presentations problems.  But by this year we had the platform down,” said senior Shaub.

There are many ways to join the next Shakespeare Day.  If you are going to be a junior next year, you may wish to become a Shakespeare day coordinator, one of the student leaders of this annual tradition.  During your junior year, a prospective coordinator may either contact Ms.Valenti or their own English teacher for more information.  

 If you are interested in art, it may be rewarding to join the annual mask or sonnet competition.  If you are interested in acting, joining the drama club or reaching out to a coordinator is the easiest way to get involved in a skit.  If you are interested in music, there are plenty of opportunities throughout the day to perform an original song or a parody of a song.  Another way to support Shakespeare Day is by watching the skits and participating in the various game shows.
  “Shakespeare was still a fun experience despite being virtual and I highly recommend being a part of such a unique school event,” said senior Dylan Schor who played the character Richard III in “A Virtual Tea Party.”