Shakespeare Students Present their Capstone Project to the Haddonfield Community


Photo Courtesy of the author

Shakespeare elective students pose outside of Inkwood Books after their reading

Mary Clare Michael, Senior Staff Writer

On Sunday, May 15, the Shakespeare elective class performed their capstone project to members of the Haddonfield Community at Inkwood Books, a local independent bookstore. The 21 HMHS seniors joined with four members of the extracurricular Shakespeare Troupe to present old and new takes on four classic Shakespearean plays. 

The first play presented was Twelfth Night, a comedy by Caroline Deegan, Claire Kilcullen, Zion Lee, Maddie McLister, and Allie Valdelomar. They presented their cut Shakespeare scenes, then performed their adaptation Twelfth Grade, about a senior prank on a teacher gone wrong.

The second play was Romeo and Juliet, with Jake Barrett, Finn Morgan, Owen Thomas, and Christian Raymond, with Jack Eyles filling in for Jack Bowman as the role of Prince. Their adaptation was not performed, but set the conflict between the Capulet and Montague families in the world of Star Wars

The third play performed was Julius Caesar, presented by Paul Bertorelli, Dante DelDuca, Briana Lavine, Matt Leming, Olivia Mariano, and GraceAnn McGrath. These students made the choice to revolve the play around Brutus and his decision to betray Caesar. Their Shakespeare scenes were followed by their adaptation, Graduation Day, a story about a friend group’s falling out as the end of senior year approaches. 

The fourth and final play was A Midsummer Night’s Dream, performed by Dashiell Benson, Tara Casale, Kennedi Carey, Jack Eyles, Mary Clare Michael, and Carson Wolff. The adaptation, entitled A Midsummer Night’s MORP, centered around a prom night with comedic stock characters. 

All of the four plays were introduced with monologues by four Shakespeare Troupe members: Joseph Keegan, Ryka Khanna, Mo Nobel, and Katie Walsh. This celebration of Shakespeare’s work lasted two hours in total, and members of the greater community attended the event. Mrs. Hughes, the Shakespeare teacher, emceed and organized the day. 

This adaptation project was the final capstone for a semester-long project funded by the HET educational grant. Students in Greek Drama collaborated to write the grant in November, the primary expense being tickets to see the Broadway national tour of Hadestown in Philadelphia. Hadestown modernizes the source myth of Orpheus and Eurydice in a modern context. The course aimed to do something similar with Shakespeare’s work, adapting the 400 year-old language and plot to a context that appeals to the community.

The Shakespeare class, through the grant, has had the opportunity to work with the Quintessence Theater, a regional theater company that performs classic works in a contemporary setting. Actors and employees from the theater company directed students, helping them get a better grasp of Shakespeare’s language while performing.

Additionally, the Shakespeare class worked with Alison Carey, a playwright and a leader in the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Carey has worked in communities around the country to promote and modernize Shakespeare’s work, as well as producing a folio of plays about the American experience. Carey joined the class via Zoom and provided mentorship in adapting the text for modern audiences.

The community responded positively to this showcase. After the show finished, both students and audience members talked openly about what they appreciated from the experience. Many audience members commented on the universality of Shakespeare’s language, and how the content is still relevant today. 

This tight-knit group of students were incredibly lucky to be presented with all the opportunities throughout the semester, and Shakespeare Day at Inkwood Books was a showcase of the combined talents of these dedicated students.