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Eighth Grade Play Challenges Concepts of Women Characters
Posted 01/18/2018 04:09PM


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Imagine this scenario: What happens when a school’s theatre lighting rig falls, condemning the performance space and taking the show’s director out of commission right after the play has been cast? A recent eighth grade production, “Hamlet/Hamlette”, introduced audiences to this plot line which features a group of characters who are ambitious high school students that  decide to put the school play on themselves.

As the title suggests, “Hamlet/Hamlette” is a play about Shakespeare’s famous tragedy, but instead of following traditional casting, this play challenged conceptions of roles for women characters in Shakespeare and empowered all of its characters to grow stronger and more confident through adversity. Girls were cast in traditionally male roles and the female characters in the play aspired to be in scenes showing that girls want opportunities to express power struggles and not just romantic roles. In one of the memorable lines, the character Hamlette says, “I don’t want to do the [‘To be or Not to be’] soliloquy when Hamlet talks about dying. I want to do the sword fight when he gets to die.”

Written and directed by Lower & Middle School Arts Coordinator Patti Veconi for the eighth grade drama class, the play was successfully performed in early January. The cast rallied to perform an exceptionally polished, sophisticated and entertaining show. As one actor described it, “everyone was so pumped backstage. We felt, like – electric!”

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The play’s successful run was also made possible with a supportive team of faculty which included scenery by Robin Reczek, Marjorie Vera and Deb Brown; lighting and program art by Scott Tofte; and an award-worthy cameo by Language Arts teacher Robert Aston playing the school board president.

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