Enjoy this account from one 7th grade Shakespeare Player on the experience of studying two of Shakespeare’s plays and performing during the pandemic.
When I found out that the Seventh Grade was going to perform a play, I was really excited. But when I then found out that it was going to be two Shakespeare plays and that we only had about a week to practice, my feelings changed. Sure, I was still excited, but I didn’t know anything about Shakespeare, other than that famous line from Hamlet (“To be or not to be”). And, we had only a week to practice! It sounded really stressful! But luckily, Sarah [Chinquapin 7th grade teacher] wasn’t going to leave us in the dark and luckily gave us all the materials we needed to prepare.
One student built a large model of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre using found items
Now, because I and many of my classmates were not familiar with Shakespeare, we read and watched the plays we were going to perform. The first play we watched was A Midsummer Night’s Dream. If you’ve never heard of it, I suggest you try and get your hands on a recorded performance! It’s really entertaining and it was fun to watch. It definitely opened my eyes to acting/performing a play and I was just fascinated by the language they spoke and the interesting story and plot.
Look carefully at the first illustration for all the details capturing the moment when Titania falls in love with Bottom
The second magical painting depicts the scene where Titania falls in love with Bottom
These costumes were designed and sewn for four characters: a fairy, Puck, Helena/Hermia, and a Rude Mechanical
The second play we were going to perform was The Tempest. I never heard of it before, but apparently, it’s a really popular play. And it shows! We couldn’t watch the play being performed live but we got the script and had a cold read. It was our first time acting as a class. It was an interesting first experience but felt a little stiff and awkward. But, it was okay! Because we had a week to practice. Now, came the kind of stressful part.
We’d sent Sarah the information about who we wanted to act as and we got the casting list. I was cast in The Tempest. And the first day we separated to act in our play, it was – like the first time – a little awkward. My group wasn’t used to having our cameras on for a long period of time and trying to use our facial expressions was iffy. But, it was fun.
The second day was the same but just a little more relaxed. By the third day, we started having difficulties. There were classmates having difficulties, classmates being absent, and unnatural flows. But, we kept going and practicing. On the fourth day, it was the final practice. Sounds really quick, right? That’s how it felt. It was anxiety-filled, especially since the fifth day was going to be the final day AKA dress rehearsal.
On dress rehearsal day, I was sweating and my stomach felt sick. We went to our usual groups and tried our best. The technical problems were out of control (we were using Zoom, which for some reason is really laggy) and we had to skip a lot of lines and scenes and record them later to edit in. For The Tempest cast, Act Five was for some reason really messy. There was a lot of stuttering, a lot of forgetting, and a lot of redos. It was really funny though and when we finally finished acting all the scenes, it was a big relief for all of us. We congratulated each other and felt accomplished.
Overall, I think we did well considering the short amount of time we had. It was fun and it really made me curious about Shakespeare and his works. I was always curious about acting and it was really nice to try it. Would I want to try another play soon? Definitely! It was very fun!