June 4, 2013 Volume 13, Issue 6

RCHS performs Hamlet

By H. Perez

Seniors A. Lenz, C. Fogleman, and J. Schuessler practice a scene from Act 2 to prepare for the night's performance.
"To be or not to be?" One might have found themselves asking this question while watching the students from Honors English IV as they performed the famous soliloquy found in Act 3 of Shakespeare's Hamlet. On April 30 and May 1, family, friends, and teachers gathered at Burning Coal Theatre to watch selections from the play that the students have been preparing for the past month with the help of English teachers Kristine Chalifoux and Steve Busonik.

The tradition of performing Hamlet scenes at RCHS goes back 5 years when Chalifoux decided to dedicate the 2nd semester of the Honors English IV curriculum to the famous play. In addition to reading the play, studying its background, and learning about William Shakespeare's life, students get to choose scenes to perform. Chalifoux said that performing Hamlet is important because it helps the students become more comfortable speaking in front of their peers. She also noted, "The play was never intended to be read. Shakespeare never published it in his lifetime. It really was meant to be seen and performed, and I think it gives the students a 360 [degree] view of the play to have the experience of not only reading it from the outside but then learn[ing] the lines as well." Senior M. Elliston reflected on a similar idea. She said that when students are "getting into... character... [they] understand the actual lines more because [they] are saying them over and over [again]."

The performances were very simple with minimal costumes and set; instead, the focus was on the students' interpretations of the material. Ninth grader C. Drummond was one of the students who came out to see the performances. He said he enjoyed the scenes because he thought they were well done: "It was interesting to see how each person portrayed [the characters]." Chalifoux said that this is very similar to what Shakespearean theatre would have been like: "The globe theater had almost no props." Overall, the performances were enjoyed by both the performers and the audience.