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HS Shakespeare Competition Wows Judges

by Madison Mento ’21

Drama students from area high schools tested their talents on the Hofstra Globe Stage when they participated in the annual high school competition of Hofstra’s 70th Annual Shakespeare Festival. Schools performed scenes from classic Shakespeare plays on March 7 and 8 and received valuable critique from Hofstra Drama faculty, including Royston Coppenger, chair of the Department of Drama and Dance; and Professors Rychard Curtiss, Christopher Dippel, Jennifer Hart and Cindy Rosenthal.

The first group to perform on Thursday, March 7, were students from Sanford H. Calhoun High School from Merrick. They presented Act III, Scene 1 from A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Emily Turner, a senior at Calhoun, played the mischievous fairy-in-chief, Titania, and she was thrilled to act on Hofstra’s Globe Stage. “I loved it here,” she said. “I was fortunate to see the real Globe in London last year, and this is a wonderful recreation. Shakespeare wrote his plays for this type of stage, and we are so lucky to perform on it ourselves.”

Students from Sanford H. Calhoun High School in Merrick perform Act III, Scene 1 from A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

The Hebrew Academy of the Five Towns and Rockaway performed Act V, Scene 2 from Taming of the Shrew, and they were commended by the judges for tackling such a complex scene. Their director, Alexandra Thomas, a 2010 Hofstra drama alumna, had worked on the painting of the Hofstra Globe Stage before its 2016 premiere. She said the elaborate set “helps the kids get used to projecting and moving in a bigger space.”

The afternoon’s competition closed with Act IV, Scene 1 from Macbeth, performed by Valley Stream Central High School. The troupe added their own twist to the classic Wyrd Sisters scene commonly known as “double, double toil and trouble” using string to connect the characters, stretched sacks to cover the witches’ faces for an eerie effect, and group rhythms to emphasize the “song” aspects of the scene. The judges said they were impressed by these unique and creative elements.

Overall, the students were simply thrilled to have the opportunity to perform on a larger stage than they’re used to and were glad to experience the globe as it was originally intended by Shakespeare himself.  “When you first get on [the stage], it’s a little bit nerve-wracking just seeing so many seats in the audience,” remarked Jonathan Harris, a junior at Hebrew Academy. “But then when you start performing, you become more comfortable and can do the scene.”

Drama Professor Cindy Rosenthal offers feedback to the students on their performance.

Marina Rodriguez, a junior at Valley Stream, was grateful to have an opportunity to perform at the Hofstra Globe. “This stage is way more high tech than the stage we have at school. It is an amazing feeling to feel like we’re doing something a little more professional, so we really thank Hofstra.”

The afternoon ended with awards and refreshments. Nicole Fauci of Calhoun High School and Courtney Chamblin of Valley Stream Central High School took home “Best Actor” awards, and Hebrew Academy of the Five Towns and Rockaway earned “Best Ensemble.”

On Friday, March 8, the competition continued with selected scenes from All’s Well That Ends Well by Walter G. O’Connell Copiague High School and Taming of the Shrew, Act III, Scene II, performed by Wantagh High School. Kayla Madden and Kyree Scott from Copiague received “Best Actor” honors and “Best Ensemble” was awarded to Wantagh.

Top image: A scene from Macbeth, performed by Valley Stream Central High School. Photos by Philip Hinds.

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