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The Annual Sophomore Shakespeare Festival – Mere High School Skit, or Shining Star in the Realm of Theater?

The Santa Catalina annual Sophomore Shakespeare Festival ranks as one of the school’s favorite traditions. Riddled with witty humor, creative costume and set production, and outstanding theatrical ability, the 2019 sophomore production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream was one for the books. The student-driven production has been a long-standing Catalina tradition for years, so students faced enormous pressure, especially those who had never performed on a stage before. The Shakespeare Festival encourages students to get out of their comfort zones and obtain a new sense of confidence, so every sophomore is required to be onstage at some point, no matter the size of the role.

Performing Shakespeare accurately and well is a task difficult for the best actors due to the difficult language and complexity, so it is no small achievement for the sophomore class to have successfully provided the students and faculty with a vivacious performance that brightened the days before the much-anticipated Winter break. The sophomores, who were divided into groups based on class sections, had many not-so-simple tasks: perform, script-edit, design, and organize a scene from one of Shakespeare’s most renowned plays.

The audience may find A Midsummer Night’s Dream difficult to comprehend, being typical of Shakespearean comedy and it requires a comprehensive understanding of Elizabethan language to perform well. After speaking with the sophomores, I learned some of the most difficult aspects of the production process included figuring out who to cast, organizing dress rehearsals, memorizing lines, and editing the script to fit their allotted time. However, despite these difficulties, the sophomores pulled through their trials and tribulations, putting on a memorable production. Although the show could not go on without everyone working to overcome the aspects previously discussed, one aspect that made the production impressive was the actresses’ ability to improvise when something went awry.  A dropped line, technical issue, a sick actress that needed filling in for, or costume malfunction, the sophomores recovered so expertly it was practically unnoticeable.

In addition to overcoming difficulties, the use of creative props such as the infamous lightsaber, scooter, and fairy wings put an amazing modern twists to the Shakespearean classic, producing contagious laughter from the entire audience. Every scene had a unique sense of individuality that captivated the audience. After speaking with Gracie Gaon, talented sophomore who portrayed the role of Lycander, I learned how the sophomores integrated these props and how they “gave flare to the performance without losing meaning, making it an overall appreciable memory that [they] will cherish forever.”

In the end, the good-natured and supportive Catalina environment assisted the sophomore class in their long-anticipated performance, and the entire community couldn’t be prouder of everyone involved. The sophomores have set a high bar for the freshman, soon to be sophomore class, and I speak for all us in saying we appreciate the opportunity to look forward to next year’s experience. Bravo, class of 2021!