Public is Invited to 14th Annual Columbia HS Shakespeare Festival May 20

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By Lucy Leonard (CHS Class of 2018) and Lauren Schwartzbard (CHS Class of 2018)

“He was not of an age, but for all time!”–Ben Jonson

For over a decade, the Shakespeare Festival Club has provided an opportunity for students of all grades to take the Bard beyond the classroom. Starting in October and going out with a bang in May, the club meets every Thursday to participate in an iambic mesh of improv games, diction work, and miniature performances. Rather than studying a given play in academic thoroughness, club members jump from play to play, joining in the antics of the Merry Wives of Windsor one week and perfecting their stage-stabbing with Julius Caesar the next.

The group tends to focus on more of Shakespeare’s lesser-known works, those that don’t often make an appearance in English classes. After nearly a year of exploring his work, club members can select any of Shakespeare’s scenes to perfect and perform for Columbia’s annual Shakespeare Festival. The weeks leading up to the festival bring a flurry of activity to the club, involving designing the perfect poster, wrapping up chocolate “BardBars” to give out to participants, and memorizing lines and blocking scenes in preparation for the show.

This year marks the Fourteenth Annual CHS Shakespeare Festival and the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, on Friday, May 20. It is an all-day event including members of the Shakespeare Club, various English classes, and anyone willing to perform. Every English class will be brought to the auditorium for forty-five minutes of Shakespearean immersion, presented in assorted scenes, videos, and interactive games. The festival showcases Shakespeare’s classics along with several of his lesser known plays.

This year’s festival will feature a number of comedies: the outrageous porter’s monologue from Macbeth and the romantic hijinks of Much Ado About Nothing, as well as a few more serious pieces from tragedies Titus Andronicus and Othello. The Columbia High School Step Team made their festival debut last year to a cheering audience and will perform a number inspired by Romeo and Juliet this year. And the South Orange Middle School Shakespeare Club will return to make a guest appearance performing the seven stages of man and a scene from Romeo and Juliet.

As students celebrate 400 years of Shakespeare’s legacy, this year’s motto, “He was not of an age, but for all time,” by Ben Jonson, sums up the feelings of the festival and its participants– a timelessness honored in a day of all the dramatics, mockery, and madness that typifies William Shakespeare.

The festival will take place on Friday, May 20th in the Columbia High School auditorium and will be running throughout the school day. Admission is free, parents are welcome, and hilarity anticipated!


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