The Bard’s work came alive during the sixth annual festival at Rider, May 22 through May 23.
Meaghan Haugh

Students from Hopewell Valley Central High participate in Shakesperience.

All the world's a stage,

And all the men and women merely players:

They have their exits and their entrances;

And one man in his time plays many parts (As You Like It)

During the sixth annual Shakesperience at Rider, the newly renovated BLC Theater transformed into the world of The Bard as more than 170 middle and high school students from eight schools across the state performed scenes and recited lines from William Shakespeare’s plays and sonnets. It all took place May 22 and 23.

The two-day festival, coordinated by Dr. Kathleen Pierce, associate professor of Graduate Education, is designed to promote the relevance of understanding Shakespeare’s work and enables students to meet with their peers, and Rider faculty, staff and students, who are inspired by the work of the iconic playwright and poet.

In the morning, the students participated in workshops geared toward Combat Choreography, Shakespeare Aloud and Finding Your Voice in Shakespeare. The workshop instructors and commentators included Rider faculty members, Dr. Sharon Morrow, assistant professor of Music Education, and Rebecca Simon, adjunct assistant professor, as well as educators from the McCarter Theatre in Princeton. In the afternoon, the students performed their creative Shakespeare montages.

Hopewell Valley Central High’s The Allusionists presented an original farce composed of Shakespeare’s sonnets, entitled Big Fat Shakespearean Wedding. Students dressed in wedding attire, recited lines as two violinists and a pianist played in the background. Meanwhile, Robbinsville High School’s Raven Players presented A Document in Madness. The stage transformed into a mental institution where student performers took notes on clipboards while other students acted as “patients,” depicting characters from Hamlet, Macbeth, King Lear, Titus Andronicus, Two Noble Kinsmen and Winter’s Tale.

The rest of the participating schools included Kinnelon High School of Kinnelon, N.J.; F.H.L. Academy of Kendall Park, N.J.; Cumberland Regional High School of Seabrook, N.J.; The Cedar Hill Prep of Somerset, N.J.; St. Mary of the Assumption High School of Elizabeth, N.J.; and North Plainfield High School of North Plainfield, N.J.