View From High School: School club brings Shakespeare to life

Samantha Pye

This Sunday, April 10, the Roslyn High School Shakespeare Society will be preforming at the first Bryant Library Shakespere Festival at 2:30 p.m. 

All members of the community are invited to enjoy an afternoon of both traditional and modern Shakespearian performances ranging from scene and line reading, stage combat and Shakespeare-inspired singing. 

Not to be confused with the Roslyn High School Shakespeare Festival, which will be on April 22 for Roslyn High School faculty and students during the school day, this will be the first Bryant Library Shakespeare Festival outside of school. The club has teamed up with the library to put together a Shakespearian event like no other. 

The club, which meets every Wednesday is composed of students of all grades that all want to celebrate the timeless work of William Shakespeare and his characters, themes and iconic language.  

But, according to senior and club co-president, the club isn’t around Shakespeare himself, but his impacts.

“We do not limit ourselves to not only engaging with Shakespeare’s plays and sonnets,” she said. “We explore adaptations in the form of skits, parodies, songs, movies and games.” 

They also want to keep Shakespeare relevant and unrestricted to adolescents today, even with the large time gap. 

“The object is to make Shakespeare as accessible as possible to students who love his plays and to those wanting to learn more about them,” she continued.

The club was founded by Hannah Skopicki, who graduated in June 2014 and is now a sophomore at Wesleyan University. It began after the English department’s long held tradition of a Shakespeare Festival needed to undergo new organization and so it no longer became an administrative run event.  

The festival became student-run by Skopicki towards the end of her sophomore year at Roslyn High School in 2012. 

After two petitions, Skopicki’s request to the administration went through and in Spring 2014, her senior year at Roslyn, the club was officially approved took off under the advisement of English teacher Sara Lehn. 

One of Skopicki’s intentions of the club is to keep Shakespeare’s literature relevant in Roslyn outside of reading an annotating mandatory reads in English classes. Though she has since graduated, she’s extremely proud of the Shakespeare Society’s accomplishments and it remains close to her heart. 

“Shakespeare Society’s main focus is to make Shakespearean literature more accessible to students in the Roslyn School District,” she explained. “His plays and poems can be experienced by a wide variety of age groups, but often the curriculum only allows students to read one book per year of high school. We use performance as a tool to supplement reading for older students, and to introduce younger students to the works of the bard.”

Keeping material interactive with performance helps keeps students engaged. 

Much like last year’s festival held at Roslyn High School, the event will be interactive and audience members are invited to participate in trivia and the society’s infamous “Early English Insult War”. 

As publicized in their advertisement, there will be “monologues and soliloquies from Hamlet and Julius Caesar, a scene from King Lear and a modern Shakespeare-inspired musical numbers.” 

Kaplan believes that anyone should consider this festival, whether you’re a student or adult with an extreme passion or little knowledge of Shakespeare. 

“Those who aren’t die hard fans may wish to attend too. What we have prepared is not like the two-dimensional Shakespeare most are accustomed to. 

Expect to see combat demonstrations, contemporary culture — Shakespeare mashups, scene adaptations, Shakespearian insult battles, and the occasional traditional scene — straight out of the playbook.”

The students believe the festival is surely something you don’t want to miss. 

The event will be open to the public and all are encouraged to attend to watch students showcase all of their talents and effort they’ve put in all year. 

They are convinced the festival is unlike anything Shakespeare you’ve witnessed seen before. 

The club hopes to bring more appreciation to Shakespeare’s work to both younger and older age groups with various forms of education. 

“The Shakespeare Society values hands-on learning, active participation, and genuine curiosity, always aiming to spark the creativity, passion, and insight of its members and the Roslyn community,” Skopicki said.

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Samantha Pye

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