Section: Arts

Shakespeare gets a goth, gay makeover at 24-hour festival

Shakespeare gets a goth, gay makeover at 24-hour festival

Goldberg, Greenzang, Fox and Cooper rehearse Midsummer. | BRITTANY LIN

Sophie Ellis-Bextor’s “Murder on the Dancefloor” greeted audience members walking into The Crow’s Nest’s second annual 24-hour Shakespeare Festival on Saturday night. The song aptly set the tone for the event, which challenged a writer, director and small cast of actors to reimagine one of the Bard’s plays — all within 24 hours. Held in Oden Auditorium, the Festival showcased three retellings full of dance, murder, humor and absurdism for the audience to enjoy. 

First was a retelling of Twelfth Night, written and directed by Jonah Hyre ’27, that focused on the narratives of Olivia, Malvolio, Sir Andrew Aguecheek and Sir Toby Belch. Hyre maintained the play’s structure but used a modern setting and confessional style à la reality TV to create a fast-paced, screwball version of the original story. In her palatial mansion, Olivia, played by Marisol Miller Richa ’27, is distraught over the death of both her father and brother. Meanwhile, her uncle Toby, played by Owen Brown ’27, has been pestering her to get married. In an misguided attempt to wed her to his friend, he invites Andrew, played by Cam Gimbrere ’27, to stay with them and is utterly oblivious to Andrew’s clear preference for men and infatuation with Toby. When Andrew says to Toby, “I’m so happy I could kiss you,” he quickly realizes his mistake and backtracks, insisting that he said, “I’m so happy I could piss glue.”  Toby readily accepts this explanation, much to the amusement of the audience. 

The following adaptation of Hamlet maintained the energy and pacing of Twelfth Night, transforming Shakespeare’s most famous character into a self-serious goth teenager who has yet to learn how to control his actions. Written by Emily Jetton ’24 and directed by Julia Bundy ’27, the play opens on Hamlet, played by Crow’s Nest co-president Syd Goldstein ’24, in his dark poster-clad bedroom. Claudius sets the production’s tone when he accuses Hamlet of staying up until 3 a.m. “playing League of Legends and blasting My Chemical Romance.” As Hamlet considers whether or not he should murder Claudius, Goldstein launches into the original “to be or not to be” monologue while Hamlet’s friends groan at his pretentious angst. Later, in a final effort to get Hamlet out of his way, Claudius attempts to send him to Coachella with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. Hamlet’s protests and murder plot are interrupted by an author’s note as Jetton announces that the author’s mom has discovered their Archive of Our Own account and that they have posted the story from their Samsung refrigerator but that they cannot write the rest of the story so, spoiler alert: everyone dies. The wild conclusion that this play was a piece of fanfiction was met with raucous applause.

Finally, a modern reimagining of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, written by Hayden Ashworth ’27 and directed by Ethan Greenzang ’27, starred characters Bottom and Helena. In an email to the Collegian, Ashworth wrote that the elements of Midsummer he wanted to highlight were “feuding friend groups, social anxiety and melodramatic heartbreak.” Greenzang staged the production at a Pride parade, explaining that the setting worked as a modern version of Midsummer’s original forest because “the forest, much like a Pride parade, represents a wild, raucous place away from the prying eyes and judgment of society.” Ashworth’s spin on Midsummer was to tell the whole story of the play through Helena and Bottom talking to each other. Throughout the play, Bottom and Helena, played by Otto Fox ’27 and Nika Cooper ’24 respectively, discuss how they both feel ignored and ostracized by their friend groups. The play concludes when a frustrated Titania, played by Kate Goldberg ’24, rushes in, revealing that she and her boyfriend Oberon are both performers at Pride but that Oberon stole her song in a fit of competitive malice. Obsessed with Bottom, Titania drags him back to Pride after Helena and Bottom agree to work things out with their friends

The three Shakespeare adaptations elicited laughter from the audience and the actors, proving the 24-hour production process a success. The visible scripts, obvious ad-libs and rushed presentation only added to the delightfully off-kilter charm of the plays, and the Shakespeare Festival proved to be a hit that students should look forward to again next year.

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