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Monday, April 1, 2013

The Harrisburg Shakespeare Company Visits Rockwood Area High School

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Romeo and Juliet via gamutplays.org
On March 20, 2013, the Harrisburg Shakespeare Company, a subsidiary of the Gamut Theater Group, visited Rockwood, bringing with them the story of Romeo and Juliet.  This group presented an interesting and educational enactment of the play that caught the attention of the audience.  Additionally, at the end of the program, they promoted student involvement during a question and answer session.

Perhaps the most exciting thing about Gamut’s play was the fact that they did so much with very little.  As a traveling playgroup, they could not carry with them large, elaborate backgrounds and props.  Therefore, they resorted to using large blocks, which could easily be formed into different various shapes and settings.

Despite the fact that the stage was void of the intricate settings that may be found in a playhouse, the cast still managed to win the hearts of the audience and carry out a suspenseful show.  The connection between Romeo and Juliet was solid, and the slashing of rapiers was precisely laid out and planned.

In the 17th century, the purpose of Romeo and Juliet and other Shakespearean works was not analysis; it was entertainment!  Today, Romeo and Juliet holds great literary value; however, it held even greater value as a form of entertainment in the Elizabethan days.  Much like how we go to the movies, the people of this era would attend the Globe Theater.  When skimming through pages, the humor and raw emotion of the play can be easily forgotten, as one does not see it unfold before his or her eyes.  Our students were able to see it through this light, something that is hard to duplicate in the classroom study of the play.  At times, the student body found themselves engulfed in the story of these two star-crossed lovers, an authentic Shakespearean experience.

Again, the members of this play did so much with so little.  Only seven members took the stage, but many of them played the parts of several characters.  However, it was easy for the audience to forget this.  The actors were able to seamlessly transition between characters, creating a different aura for each character.

Throughout the country, Shakespeare has become a core part of the curriculum.  However, very few students ever have the opportunity to view it the way it was intended to be, as a work of amusement.  Through the works of the Gamut Theater Group, the true intentions of Shakespeare’s works came to life at Rockwood, just one stop in the theatre company’s busy schedule of 350 events and workshops.  The acting company accurately depicted the emotions and excitement of the play.  For this reason, they are a theater group that I would recommend to any high school institution wishing to bring the true sentiments of Shakespeare to its students.


This article was published in the March 2013 issue of Rockwood’s Rohistat newspaper.
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