On Tuesday, March 5, the English 4 Honors students performed their adaptations of “Macbeth” in the Black Box Theatre. This is the first time that English teachers Catherine Schieffelin and William Martino ave organized this project.
The inspiration came from a previous school Ms. Schieffelin once taught at, where all the seniors would read “Hamlet” and each class would get a couple of scenes to perform at Hamlet Night.
The English 4 Honors students were assigned a imilar task. After reading “Macbeth,” they were given a scene in which they needed to modernize the setting and characters while still retaining 90% of Shakespeare’s original vocabulary. They then had to memorize their lines and give a performance in the Black Box Theatre.
“For years, with my honors classes I had students choose a specific scene, analyze it, and actually write a scene that explored similar themes and conflicts and character types but totally modernize it, change the story, and do a written piece for me, which is fun,” Ms. Schieffelin said, “but [this year] I wanted to do something a little different and get kids performing Shakespeare and using his language.”
At assembly on Monday, April 1, a total of 10 sophomores won awards. There were two individual awards and two group awards. Sophomore Adam Paszczuck won the best actor award for his role as Malcolm and sophomore Emma Henry won the award for best actress in her role of Lady Macbeth. Sophomores Emily Karasik and Braden Flowers won the award for best small ensemble for their performance of Act 2, Scene 2.
The award for best large ensemble went to sophomores Kyle Frankel, Sydney Dwyer, Shreeya Chalikonda, Chris Sienko, Olivia Pear, and Brooke Seaver for their performance of Act 4, Scene 1.
These students came up with ideas such as fortune telling at a fair, frat boys stealing airpods, KO students stealing Mr. Goodman’s test answers, and “Macbeth” in a “High School Musical” style. “I thought it was really cool that we were able to incorporate gen-z humor into our scripts,” Brooke said.
Ms. Schieffelin agreed. “I think the exercise of taking a Shakespearean scene and deciding what’s important and what’s not is so valuable,” Ms. Schieffelin said. “You have to be able to understand what Shakespeare is saying to then modify certain words to fit the adaptation.”
Memorizing the lines was hard work. Sophomore Madeline Arcaro used a method called the 10-10-2 method, where she spoke the lines 10 times, read the lines 10 times, and wrote them out twice.
Emily said she also prepared a lot but still felt nervous. “I was very nervous to go up there and read the lines, but I think it helped to have my partner there next to me,” Emily said
The students’ accomplishments seem even more impressive considering they only had a week and a half to finish the project. “I definitely feel like we had the hardest time with where we would go and how we would interact physically and the props too,” Brooke said. “We only had two hours max to practice our blocking and where the props would go.”
Ms. Schieffelin also acknowledged that timing was a constraint. “In the future, I would give the students more time for the project,” she said.
Sophomore Cici Chagnon had some advice for the rising sophomores. “Do an adaptation that’s fun because the best adaptations are the ones that are funny,” she said. “It will also help you enjoy rehearsing your lines more if you do something that is interesting.”