Drama Showcases Condensed Shakespeare


Mindy Luo, Visual Media Editor

Normally only presented at the district-wide Shakespeare Festival, the Drama 2 and Advanced Drama students performed their 8-minute “condensed Shakespeare” plays for the 1st time in front of a Campolindo audience at an end-of-semester showcase on January 9.

According to drama teacher Chris McNevin, 2nd-year and advanced students began developing their plays in November. They had their choice of classic Shakespeare plays including Hamlet, Macbeth, and The 12th Night, while Drama 1 students took on stories such as Silence of the Lambs, The Hobbit, Inside Out, and Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

Many Drama 2 and Advanced Drama students felt that the showcase helped them in preparation for Shakesfest which they attended on January 15.

Shakesfest is an event where all the drama departments in the district gather together to watch each other perform their own renditions of various Shakespeare plays. An opportunity for students to receive professional critique, the festival is not open for public viewing. “It’s scary to go in front of a bunch of people that you don’t know and they’re going to be watching you just act, so not having that experience [at the showcase] and then being able to go up and do it even if its a small group of parents, I think it can calm down some nerves before going through Shakefest,” said junior Drama 2 student Ben Oxendine.

Some of the student actors also felt that the showcase was refreshing in terms of being able to perform in front of an audience comprising of non-drama students. “It was nice to perform in front of people that weren’t actors because it’s a lot less daunting. It’s fun to perform for friends and family because they don’t really get to see what we work on unless there’s a showcase,” said junior Mckenna Muller. “It helped a lot with my nerves and definitely boosted our group’s confidence.”

Muller also felt that the long-awaited showcase was an opportunity to help the drama program grow in popularity. “I feel like people forget we have a drama program, which really sucks,” said Muller. “The productions we have done so far with McNevin have all been student directed, so they’re really important to us and we’re proud of them. The more opportunities we have to improve like this, the more recognition we’ll get on campus.”

McNevin and his students felt that the showcase was gratifying. “1 of the coolest moments for me during the showcase was seeing all the drama kids, all the theater arts kids hanging out together, whether they were Drama 1, Drama 2 or Advanced Drama,” said McNevin. “They were hanging out in the wings of the theater, and they were all watching each other and they were all bonding and enjoying and celebrating each other, which is exactly what this is about.”

“The environment that’s created is fantastic. Everyone’s able to be themselves. It’s open. It’s a safe space,” said Oxendine.

Embedded in Shakesfest tradition, the performances were limited in order to allow for more creative decisions to be made. Actors only wore black clothing and there were no props allowed except for 4 simple chairs that could be used for sound effects and building structures. “There are sometimes problems when you can’t use costuming, when you cannot use tech, and you cannot use props and all you have is 4 chairs. That creates huge problems, so it forces the students to solve those problems using themselves, their bodies, their actions, their emotions, their words,” said McNevin.

McNevin hopes to continue the tradition of holding Drama showcases to allow his students to attain more recognition for their work. “It’s difficult to get into the theater because we have the musical and we have a choral program, so sharing that space plus any outside renters getting into the theater is a very difficult thing, but I definitely hope to do more of those kinds of showcases in the future,” said McNevin.