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San Rafael competes at Shakespearean festival

SRJH Students Compete at Shakespeare Festival

Adrienne Carter and Caleb Woolsey competed against students from nine other states in the 32nd Annual Utah Shakespearean Festival's High School Drama Competition at SUU on Oct. 3-4. 

In 1977, the first year of the Utah Shakespearean Festival Competition, six schools participated. This year, approximately 2,500 students representing over 90 schools from nine states participated.

Both SRJH students performed three minute monologues from Shakespeare's As You Like It. Adrienne portrayed Phoebe and Caleb took on the role of Orlando. Both received superior and excellent ratings.

The acting competition was divided into six divisions: Buckingham (for schools with enrollment of 2,001 or more), Oxford (enrollment of 1,701 to 2,000), Cambridge (enrollment of 801 to 1,700), Westminster (enrollment of 800 or fewer), Stratford (junior high and middle schools of any size) and Essex (schools or groups which are not members of state high school associations).

Students were able to compete in mono-acts, duo/trio scenes and ensembles. Mono-act competitors presented for the judges a two-four minute monologue from a Shakespeare play or sonnet. In the duo/trio competition, two or three actors presented a four-six minute scene from a Shakespeare play or sonnet. In the ensemble competition, a group of students from a school presented a Shakespearean scene. Other students competed in dance, visual art, and tech olympics.      

One of the reasons the competition is so successful is because the actors who judge the performances, and were flown in from all over the United States for the event, actually workshop with the students following their critique and model the correct ways to approach the scenes, deliver the dialogue, and move about the stage. In this way, each student has seen a minimum of 18 performances of other students during the judging process and has interacted personally with some of the most notable performers in the field of Shakespeare in the process.

This was a great learning experience for Adrienne and Caleb. The judges not only offered praise for the students' strengths in their performances, but they also offered very specific criticisms as to how they could improve their performances, but they were also very kind and supportive in their suggestions.

Adrienne and Caleb both learned more about Shakespeare and how to deliver their performances in a manner more suited to the Shakespearean style of speaking and acting.

When they weren't performing, Adrienne and Caleb attended workshops where they learned about staged combat, artful speaking, cold readings and auditions, living up to the size of Shakespeare, and improv. As part of their experience they also attended the Utah Shakespearean Festival's fall season productions of Moonlight and Magnolias, and Gaslight.

Michael Don Bahr, Festival Education Director, originally attended the competition as a student in 1982 and then, as a drama coach, brought his own high school drama classes to compete for 10 years before accepting his current position with the Festival

"When the students work with Shakespeare and learn from these professional actors, something magical occurs," said Bahr. "This intimate theatrical experience is what the competition is all about. The quality of student actors, dancers, and technicians in this year's competition was superb. They are all to be congratulated on the level of their craft."




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