Last month, 29 students headed to Ashland, Ore., for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. This annual trip, established in 2009, gives students with a love of literature and theater the chance to enhance their understanding not just of Shakespeare but also the elements of storytelling.
On the trip the students saw productions of Shakespeare’s “Henry V” and “Romeo and Juliet,” as well as an adaptation of the Jane Austen novel “Sense and Sensibility.” In addition, they saw “Snow in Midsummer,” an update of the Chinese play “The Injustice to Dou Yi That Moved Heaven and Earth,” by 14th century playwright Guan Hanqing.
“’Snow in Midsummer’ was in the middle of its U.S. premiere run, and I was blown away by the story, tech and characters,” said senior Ellie Lang-Ree, who has been attending the trip since grade 9. “I’d never experienced the horror genre in the medium of theater, and the diverse cast combined with a story for all was absolutely incredible.”
Senior Hannah Lak, another four-year attendee, said she was greatly impressed with the “high-quality acting and the amazing set design” in “Henry V.”
“As for ‘Snow in Midsummer,’ it was incredible to see an all-Asian cast turn a classical Chinese drama into a modern ghost story on stage,” she said.
During the trip, the students also took part in a workshop in which they explored character archetypes and how they are used by actors to create characters and performances that audiences can relate to. “We talked about how many types of characters embody an archetype, be it the fighter, the ruler, the fool, or the innocent or even multiple archetypes,” said Mathew Mammen, grade 12. “We went on to discuss how archetypes can be connected to symbols, genres and settings as well as characters.”
Following the discussions about various archetypes, students “played games to outline the stereotypes associated with each, using famous theatrical, political and film examples,” said Lang-Ree. “We then broke into groups and worked on the physicalization of these characters using suggestive images and words to create a story and mood.”