By Staff Writer Julia Park
Led by English Teacher John Boegman, students performed a scene from William Shakespeare’s Macbeth on November 16 at the University of California, Davis along with students from other schools. All teachers had participated in the Globe Education Academy, a teacher development program designed to promote the performance of Shakespeare’s plays.
In a partnership with the University of California, Davis, the Globe Theater in London offered high school English and drama teachers in the region a chance to enroll in the Academy. The program, led by Mondavi Center’s Director of Arts Education, Joyce Donaldson, featured several workshops, a two-week summer residency at Shakespeare’s Globe Theater in London, and a final student performance of Macbeth at the University of California, Davis’ Mondavi Center. Boegman participated in the program because he wanted to provide an acting-based Shakespeare curriculum to his students. He said, “When [Shakespeare] wrote his plays, he didn’t think anyone would read them. He imagined people watching it performed. So when you see an acting company dramatize it, it’s very approachable.”
In September, Boegman asked fellow English teachers to publicize the opportunity to their students. Boegman and 16 students began practicing their assigned scenes — Act I Scene 7 and Act II Scene 1 — during every advisory period and even occasionally before school.
On November 16, MSJ students and performers from ten other schools gathered at the Mondavi Center to perform a full production. They rehearsed several times in the morning before their final performance. Like actors in traditional Shakespeare performances, students used no props; the only costume was a gold necklace for Macbeth and a red one for Lady Macbeth. The final performance was videotaped by the Academy.
Students creatively portrayed their assigned scenes. Macbeth’s soliloquy actually featured several Macbeth actors, who emerged from a single-file line behind the main Macbeth, played by Freshman Max Chou, to represent his inner turmoil. Similarly, several Lady Macbeths circled around the conflicted Macbeth to persuade him to kill King Duncan. Rustling and mewling from backstage created an eerie nighttime background noise, while actors on stage, such as Sophomore Ashni Mathuria playing Banquo, truly brought their characters to life. Similarly, other schools played their parts creatively and effectively.
At the end of the play, the teachers gave a surprise performance of a few important scenes they had practiced during their residency at the Globe Theater. Boegman played one of the Macbeths as well as Banquo’s ghost. Although the teachers were a bit rusty with their lines — leading to MSJ students helpfully shouting them out from the audience — their desperate, emotional portrayal of Macbeth’s panic and guilt at seeing Banquo’s ghost was stunning.
Although the program has ended and Boegman will not perform with the Academy again, Boegman plans to continue to teach Shakespeare through acting. “It’s challenging. It’s still 400-year-old language … But it’s not impossible either. And through the process of trying to bring action to the script, some of the mysteries of that 400-year-old language disappear,” he said. “I really hope that in my Shakespeare units with my students, they end up enjoying Shakespeare and not fearing Shakespeare.”
Student Cast: Freshmen Max Chou, Makayla Chow, Abey Joseph, Derek Luan, Sid Mukherjee, Arnav Nayudu, Anita Sun, Serena Wang, Dylan Zhang, Alicia Zhu, Sophomores Anisha Acharya, Katerina Bajaj, Nuha Ghatala, Twamasi Ghosh, Ashni Mathuria & Senior Lucille Njoo
Photos by Staff Writer Julia Park