Mr Haller’s Brit Lit classes visit the Folger Theater

Eli Klopp, Editor

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Approximately 60 DeMatha students and 100 students from other schools around the area gazed in shock at the circular stage illuminated by a single spotlight on Mark Antony. Thrusting a sword into his stomach as he fell to the ground, motionless.Antony had just received word that Cleopatra had killed herself, but it was her hope that he would come rushing back to her, only to find that she was alive. Instead, he was so overcome with grief that he took his own life. Cleopatra came rushing onto the stage, realizing the mistake she had made, the tragic irony of her decision. She took several poisonous snakes which bit her until she, too, died.

Cleopatra holds Marc Anthony in her arms after Anthony commits suicide.

This was the climactic ending to William Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra. The stage went dim and a thunderous applause emanated throughout the audience. The cast all came onto the stage, taking their bows and receiving praise for their performance.

Thursday, November 2, Mr. Haller’s Honors British Literature classes had met in the front circle, prepped to go to the Folger Shakespeare Library, which holds the world’s largest collection of printed works of William Shakespeare. The students boarded two buses and headed to the Folger Library.

The play started at ten, and everyone entered into a hall with twenty foot ceilings containing pictures and historical artifacts relating to the works of William Shakespeare. The center of attention was a large painting of William Shakespeare, accompanied by a plaque stating that it was the most well-known picture of the playwright.

As the DeMatha students made their way into the Theatre, the room was lit up with several spotlights focusing on a circular bed on center of the the stage. For this specific play the stage was completely changed from a traditional rectangular shape to circular and centered for all audience members to have a more fully immersed experience.

After a bit of a struggle with trying to find seat numbers, the show began. The scene started with the focus on the two main characters, Cody Nickell as Mark Antony and Shirine Babb as Cleopatra. The two had a great connection and the rest of the cast was fantastic as well. They performed with passion and kept everyone engaged throughout the play.

At the end of the play the audience gave the actors and actresses several rounds of applause for a performance that was both entertaining and educational, something that is very hard to find these days. There was time for students to ask the cast questions when they came back from getting changed into more modern clothes.

One student asked why each member of the cast decided to get into acting. Dylan Paul, who played Octavius Caesar, responded “I decided to become an actor when I realized I would never play in the NBA.” His response gave rise to laughter from the crowd and fellow cast members, and he went on to say that he went to a play his sister was in and decided that he wanted to become an actor.

The Q&A session gave the audience a clear window into the lives of the cast. This gave students the ability to connect to the cast on a more personal level than just them putting on a performance. It was an opportunity the audience won’t soon forget. Who knows? Maybe a few of the students will become actors or directors because of the unique experience they were able to share with the cast of Antony and Cleopatra.

 

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Mr Haller’s Brit Lit classes visit the Folger Theater