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13th Annual Columbia High School Shakespeare Festival

Written by Laura Hirsch, Class of 2015

Shakespeare Festival at CHS As April approaches, many students become eager for Spring break. But for some, it means crunch time for the rapidly approaching Shakespeare Festival which will be held on April 10th this year.

The Thirteenth Annual Columbia High School Shakespeare Festival will be an all-day event celebrating the works of the Bard. Students prepare scenes from a variety of plays to perform on stage in front of the student body. The scenes can be from any of Shakespeare’s works and can be interpreted in any way the students wish. However, students are encouraged to pick scenes that fit this year’s theme or quote: “Chaos Is Come Again” which hails from Othello(3.3).

Every student participant receives a t-shirt with this year’s student-designed logo.

Students can also participate in the festival in other ways- the logo contest, poster contest, sonnet contest, scavenger hunt, and ‘behind-the-scenes’ work with stage crew.“It takes Shakespeare outside of the classroom and brings it to life,” says Maddy Jones, class of 2015. “It’s also just a lot of fun.”

Many classes are required to perform in scenes, such as English II, World Literature, Drama, andPoetry, as well as the Introduction to Shakespearean Literature class. Many students perform in the festival in subsequent years by choice. “I really didn’t want to perform [two years ago],” said Sophie Fisher, class of 2015 and last year’s logo contest winner. “When I got up there, it turned out to be a really great experience. I’m so glad I was able to do it.” Introduction to Shakespearean Literature is a full year course, but currently, it is the only course in the school devoted entirely to Shakespeare. However, a new course is in the development stage which hopes to combine the studies of European History in conjunction with Richard II, Henry IV Part 1, Henry IV Part 2, and Henry V.

Many of the performers are members of the Shakespeare Festival Club, which begins meeting as early as October in order to prepare for the festival in April. These students are driven solely by their love of Shakespeare and not an academic grade. Often, they perform in multiple scenes for the festival. The club is open to those of all ranges of experience and takes place every Thursday in room C215.

The festival itself is only partially funded by the school district and CHS affiliated organizations such as Cougar Boosters and SOMEA, the teacher’s association. The club is hoping to post a fundraising website in the future where community members can donate directly, which will allow the club and festival to continue to grow. In the meantime, donations can be sent to Steve MacPherson, care of Columbia High School, 17 Parker Avenue, Maplewood. Checks should be made out to CHS/Shakespeare Festival.

“Chaos Is Come Again” to Columbia High School on Friday, April 10th in the CHS auditorium and is open to the public. Come join the mayhem! You’ll be glad you did!