[by: Elizabeth Dass]
In commemoration of William Shakespeare’s 400th anniversary, American Degree Program Spring 2016 intake students from the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences had put up a show to the masses as a part of their Theatre 101 class. It was held in the Taylor’s University Experimental Theater for two consecutive days, from 27th April to 28th April 2016. The show consisted of four different short plays for each day, which were adaptations based on Shakespeare’s literature.
The ambience and the setting of the plays was really simple, yet beautiful. There were many elements that brought the show to life, such as the music and the lighting, which played their own distinct parts in the show by heightening the impact of every scene in each play. At first glance, the performance space looked really small, but the use of space was executed really well. There were modern and medieval times.
I was quite taken back by the creativity of each group and how they had put so much detail into the little things that brought their play to a whole new level, including special effects such as smoke and gauzes. In addition to that, the costumes truly enhanced their characters – some had symbolism weaved into them, which brought more sophistication to the characters the actors played.
Besides that, part of the joy and energy came from the sheer commitment and devotion shown by each group. Much of the energy can be accredited to the strong delivery of characters and roles that the students acted out. The plays left me awed with mind-blowing stories which had their own twist to them. The amazing part was that all the stories were crafted by the students themselves. It was great to see the teamwork and showmanship between them in order to put on a spectacular show.
Most of the plays revolved around the theme of money, lust and love.
It intrigued me to see how some plays had deep, thought-provoking scenes that imply certain messages to the crowd. Same-sex marriage was one of the issues that was highlighted, which I find to be controversial in the society we live in. It brought the message of how society doesn’t have to dictate love and that everyone deserves love, regardless of their gender. There were also plays that gave emphasis on how we live in a money-driven world, some of which were based on true events that have taken place before. Some stories were even humour-based, which prompted the audience to laugh off their seats with every joke.
I spoke with Miss Pat Chan, senior lecturer of the theatre of American Degree Program to find out what she felt about the whole show.
“I was blown away, and I feel that William Shakespeare would have been blown away, too. What we did was a fusion of Shakespeare’s works that had common issues [in his time] and we related them to the current issues [that are relevant] in the era we live in. Besides the results, the most important part was the back process of it, [and] everyone gave their dedication and passion which brought success at the end of the day.”
At the end of each show, the audience was given a chance to vote for their favourite performance. The first night came to a close with one winning team that had outdone themselves among the rest, which were ‘A Midsummer’s Nightmare’, ‘In My Mind’s Eye’ and ‘Herault of Joy’. The unexpected outcome on the second night was that there were two winners, as the respective teams had worked together to create two separate plays which were connected, leading to a tie.
Meanwhile, I found each performance to be amazing in itself. Everyone was all smiles at the end of each night, and most definitely left ‘shaken and stirred’ in their seats.