Published: Granite Bay Gazette Vol. 18, Issue 4. Friday, Dec. 12, 2014.
Reason for publication: This story served as a synopsis of a play that was performed and Granite Bay High School at its entire production – from casting to finale.
For the typical high school student, the mere mention of Shakespeare brings flashbacks of monotonous English classes reading such works as “Romeo and Juliet.” These memories, however, do not correspond with the Granite Bay High School Drama department’s fall production of the comedy “The Complete Works Of William Shakespeare (Abridged.)”
The play was directed by Kyle Holmes, GBHS’ Drama teacher, and included senior Kelli McTague as assistant director, junior Kylee Riddle as stage manager and a crew of 12 students.
The plot follows four narrators, played by juniors Mira Pexa and Erica Lucia and seniors Jack Fish and Daniel Eitzman, who attempt to produce the entirety of Shakespeare’s oeuvre with only the help of 10 student actors.
While the play includes traditionally theater aspects, the fourth wall, which separates the actors from the audience, is broken early on in the play.
“In other shows I’ve been (in), we’re not really supposed to look at the audience or acknowledge that they’re there,” Fish said. “But (in) this show we count on acknowledging them. There’s not a lot of shows like this … where you just interact with the crowd this much.”
Audience participation affects the way the actors perform the play; thus, the rendition differs slightly from night to night depending on the general response.
“I do believe that things can change in a second,” Lucia said. “We have this responsibility … (that) we must keep the show on track, but also have the freedom – due to the nature of the show – to respond to audience members as they come.”
Another less conventional aspect of the play is the manipulation of the narrators’ roles. The two male narrators, Fish and Eitzman, essentially play themselves; Pexa and Lucia emulate their real-life personalities, albeit with slight alterations.
I’m basically playing myself, in a way,” Fish said. “I’m not putting on a different persona, which is different from what I’ve done previously.”
According to Fish, the play enjoys popularity with a diverse audience due to its variety of humor. Some jokes appeal to teenagers, while others are targeted towards the adult crowd.
Since the script was initially written for a cast of just three men, much of the initial humor came from the seemingly impossible nature of producing all of Shakespeare’s works in a limited amount of time.
The central challenge became translating the play to fit a cast of 14 while still retaining the comedic aspect.
“Mr. Holmes began with addressing the challenge of translating a show with an original cast of only three, to reconstructing it to fit our needs,” Lucia said. “By having ten actors that could be split up to tackle different plays, we still had the quickness and frantic nature that the original cast of three had.”
According to junior Bailey Bradford, the cast was extremely tight-knit and in addition to creating new friendships, he was doing what he loved.
“(My) favorite aspect of the show is probably performing it,” Bradford said, who acted alongside his sister, junior Bailey Bradford. “It’s great, you’re pumped up and exhilarated because you’ve
got audiences cheering you on as you’re saying your lines and everyone laughs, it’s pretty cool.”
However, the production experienced one drawback because of the name ‘Shakespeare’ in the title.
Since works by Shakespeare are so prevalent in academic curriculums, many high school students have developed preconceived notions that they are dry and tedious, Lucia said.
“Our biggest challenge was definitely combating the judgment associated with the name ‘Shakespeare,’” Lucia said. “William Shakespeare did not create 1,122 characters and 37 different stories for you to be forced to read and annotate in English class. No, he dreamt up and constructed real people and plots that became a spectacle meant to be performed and enjoyed.”