Shakespeare Day is Back in Person, “As We Like It”

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Kaitlyn Schechter, Staff Writer

William Shakespeare is one of the most commemorated and famous playwrights in the world.  He wrote at least 37 plays himself, two narrative poems, 154 sonnets, and much more that wasn’t preserved after his death.  His works have been translated into every major language, and he is considered the father of modern English literature. For these reasons,  he is celebrated in schools all over the United States.  Shakespeare Day has been a Schreiber tradition for 31 years and students  cannot wait to see what the Shakespeare Day coordinators have planned this Apr. 29. 

“I can’t wait to see what’s planned for Shakespeare Day this year.  I have heard from other students how exciting and fun all the activities and competitions are.  I am mostly looking forward to the skits and seeing the creative spins people come up with,” said freshman Eva Franchetti.

Shakespeare was born in the United Kingdom in 1564. He attended a local grammar school and at age 18  he married Anne Hathaway (not the one from The Devil Wears Prada).  Together they had three children.  As they were growing up, Shakespeare’s career in London prospered.  He was growing as a writer, actor, and even co-owned a playwriting company.  His early plays were mostly comedies and these did very well.  He then began writing more tragedies.  In his later years, he wrote many romances in collaboration with other renowned playwrights. 

Some of his most popular of his plays are Hamlet, Midsummer Night’s Dream, King Lear, Romeo and Juliet, and Macbeth. It is a remarkable feat that works once meant for entertainment are now one of the most common pieces read in English classes.  There are entire classes, performances, and clubs dedicated to a writer who lived 400 years ago, and he still has such a strong influence. 

In high schools everywhere, Shakespeare is commonly studied.  Whether it be a sole unit or an entire class dedicated to understanding his work, most students are familiar with his plays.  Every line is disectable and has a deeper meaning.  The moving language is great practice for studying complex literature. 

“I love reading plays in class like Romeo and Juliet. Everyone can get assigned different roles and it’s more interesting and fun than reading dull texts with less excitement,” said freshman Ryann Engel.

National William Shakespeare Day is Apr. 23 (even though Schreiber is celebrating on the 29).  This is presumed to be the date he was born and died on.  Robert J. Williamson, the artistic director of the British Shakespeare Company, originally started National Shakespeare Day in 1995. At first it was called “National Talk Like Shakespeare Day,” but it has evolved and was renamed in 2005 and is reserved to be a day for honoring Shakespeare’s creations.

Every year on Shakespeare Day students are able to express themselves and honor famous works with their own creative twists.  It’s an all-day program organized by the Shakespeare Day coordinators, which are juniors and seniors chosen by Ms.Valenti.  It consists of skits, songs, videos, games, and whatever else the students come up with that year. 

¨My favorite part is being entertained and surprised by the amount of talent that exists in Schreiber between the students and the staff and how they come together in this unique way. Every year I’m floored by what they are able and willing to do,¨ said Ms.Valenti, the English teacher who organizes Shakespeare Day every year.

With all the performances, there will also be a few competitions including creating masks, writing sonnets, tee-shirts, and a competition for the best scene. They are also trying to work out a cupcake war competition as they had done in past years.  A few aspects of the day had to bealtered last year due to Covid-19, including virtual performances.  Even with this setback, students were still able to create amazing acts which were recorded and archived on the school website.  However, it was disappointing to miss out on so many of the competitions and activities.

“We’re thrilled to be back in the auditorium again after being virtual last year. We look forward to the return of Shakespeare Day in full force!¨ said senior Ellie Shapiro, a student coordinator.

Shakespeare Day is a school tradition that prompts creative endeavors from Schreiber students.  It brings out the talent in so many and  is a very special tradition.