Shakespearean Folly During Bard’s Birthday

Around the globe, and even at the Globe Theatre, people celebrated the 449th birthday of the most famous playwright. At Ramapo, The Salameno Center for British Studies presented a day of singing, acting and sword fights.

Four acting classes one specifically focused on Shakespeare organized an exhibition of various Shakespeare works called "Scenes, Sonnets and Soliloquies," which they performed in the intimate Adler Theatre.

"I wasn't a Shakespeare fan before I started taking this class. Now I'm okay with it," senior Frank Hughes said. "I still think he's a little wordy, but I look forward to taking part in a future production either here or somewhere else."

During the show, the cast sat in a circle and directly addressed the audience, often using each other as props during the sonnets.

I was really amazed at how they did the sonnets. I never really pictured sonnets being done that way but it was actually pretty cool," said sophomore Kimberly Halloran, who took part in the acting workshop earlier in the day's events.

"I really liked A Midsummer Night's Dream."

"I liked the witches. I thought it was interesting how everything flowed into each other. It was like one big play even though it was all different parts," sophomore Nikolette Sirawsky said. Sirawsky, a member of the a cappella group 4GotteN SuitCase, also performed madrigals with the group earlier in the day.

The students in the show had worked on their parts before, but only had two days to work together as an ensemble in the space.

"The reality is that we come in here and very quickly throw the thing together in this space, which changes all the blocking, and we discover things in here … and suddenly when all the students are together other ideas happen … some of the ensemble things happened literally right before the show," Associate Professor of Theater Terra Vandergraw, who directed the show along with Professor Maria Vail.

"Terra and I both were trained to really respect the ensemble, to work in an ensemble way, and it's something you sometimes don't get in classes because you're too busy dealing with the individual acting problems," Vail said.

"I think the thing that everyone would say right of the bat that's very difficult about Shakespeare learning all the lines, and not just learning them to the letter because people are always very very specific about that," Hughes said. "You have to get each little bit right. But knowing what they mean, knowing where to put the right emphasis because yes, everything is written in English, but to anyone else it looks like Greek."

Students in other shows tended to agree with the loftiness of Shakespeare's words.

"Well, we didn't have much time to practice it, but the fact that we had to do our own dialogue for it too. It's just that acting out Shakespeare is one thing, but fighting to Shakespeare's writing is like completely different and it's definitely not easy," junior Dan Kropa said. "Acting as a whole isn't that easy, but acting while thinking about  what the hell Shakespeare is even talking about , it's a hard combination of the two actions."

In the future, those involved with the Salameno Center wish to have more events that focus on students.

"The entire event today was an in house event, meaning it was very student centered, just pulling at the talent from Ramapo for all of the events… It was kind of just the first time we attempted this, so I'm thinking this was a good thing to do. I think we should do this every year," Vandergraw said.