Ninth graders perform Romeo and Juliet at VeronaFest

Every year, ninth graders take on a piece of Shakespearean literature and transform one passage into a scene. In past years, students have read famous work of Shakespeare like “Macbeth” and “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” This year, ninth graders in their Journeys in Literature class took on possibly the most famous Shakespeare story: “Romeo and Juliet.”

“Romeo and Juliet” is a tragic play about forbidden romance. The play is still known by many young adults today, with 2011 movie “Gnomeo and Juliet” making 194 million dollars at the box office, and popular songs like Taylor Swift’s “Love Story” having themes and references to the play originally released in 1597.

Ninth grader Per Johnson said, “It was hard to put Shakespearean passages into modern day context…but, overall it was an exciting challenge.”

This year, students performed in front of their peers in VeronaFest, the name coming from a mashup of the city “Romeo and Juliet” takes place in and the word “festival”. Students made many adaptations to the original script, changing the time period, scenery, and costumes.

Ninth grader Ellie Murphy said, “It went well, and it was fun to see how the scene I did was performed differently.”

“The suit I wore was a little itchy, otherwise it was a great experience,” ninth grader Davyd Barchuk said.

To help the students with their scene, actors from “Romeo and Juliet” came to SPA and performed to see how professionals did each scene. After that, each group was assigned to an actor who gave them advice.

It was fun to see how the scene I did was performed differently.”

— Ninth grader Ellie Murphy

“We started with all of the groups in class with professional actors, from there we worked on cutting down our script and blocking,” said ninth grader Graciela Whitaker-Castaneda.

“The actor I worked with was very good with choosing blocking and I think it really helped.”

Despite tough Shakespearean language, ninth graders were generally pleased with the results.

Ninth grader Alex Moore said, “It’s great to see my classmates working so hard to understand such complex literature.”

Awards (As voted on by the judges):

Best Actor: Graciela Whitaker- Castaneda

Best Actor: Naci Konar-Steenberg

Best Supporting: Ellie Murphy

Best Supporting: Will Sedo

Best Throw: Sophie Cullen

Best Scene Stealer: Mukeil Rizvi

Best Dying Scene: Grant Mortenson

Best Fight Scene: Act 3, Scene 1 – Naci, RJ, Grant, Will

Best Stage Movement: Caroline Menard

Best Stage Presence: Olivia Szaj

Best Heckler: Will Anderson

Best Set: Act 1, Scene 4 – Nan, Maggie, Caroline M.

Best Score: Act 2, Scene 4 – Graciela, Vivian, Henry C.

Best Scene: Comedy: Act 1, Scene 1

Best Scene: Drama: Act 1, Scene 5 – Zoey B, Annika, Sutton L