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Jaffrey-Rindge School District

Playing the part to music

21st Annual Jaffrey-Rindge Shakespeare Festival:  Students reinvent Bard’s classic works

  • Jaffrey-Rindge School District's annual Shakespeare Festival<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)

    Jaffrey-Rindge School District's annual Shakespeare Festival

    (Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Conant High School junior Bekah Chiasson of Jaffrey and junior Eli Hodgson of Rindge rehearse their lines as Juliet and Romeo during a recent rehearsal for Friday's Jaffrey-Rindge Shakespeare Festival.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)

    Conant High School junior Bekah Chiasson of Jaffrey and junior Eli Hodgson of Rindge rehearse their lines as Juliet and Romeo during a recent rehearsal for Friday's Jaffrey-Rindge Shakespeare Festival.

    (Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Jaffrey-Rindge eighth grader Lily Germano of Rindge rehearses her role as King Lear at the middle school last week.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)

    Jaffrey-Rindge eighth grader Lily Germano of Rindge rehearses her role as King Lear at the middle school last week.

    (Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Conant High School freshman Ted Chartrand of Rindge plays William Shakespeare in an original performance his drama class created for this year's Jaffrey-Rindge Shakespeare Festival.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)

    Conant High School freshman Ted Chartrand of Rindge plays William Shakespeare in an original performance his drama class created for this year's Jaffrey-Rindge Shakespeare Festival.

    (Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Conant High School sophomore Nathan Rousseau of Jaffrey practices the role of Othello during a rehearsal last week. His drama class will perform abridged Shakespearean plays Friday at the Jaffrey-Rindge Shakespeare Festival.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)

    Conant High School sophomore Nathan Rousseau of Jaffrey practices the role of Othello during a rehearsal last week. His drama class will perform abridged Shakespearean plays Friday at the Jaffrey-Rindge Shakespeare Festival.

    (Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Conant High School freshman Ryan Skinner of Rindge, who plays Nick Bottom, left, and senior Andrea Turgeon of Jaffrey, who plays Titana, rehearse a romantic scene together from a Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream."<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)

    Conant High School freshman Ryan Skinner of Rindge, who plays Nick Bottom, left, and senior Andrea Turgeon of Jaffrey, who plays Titana, rehearse a romantic scene together from a Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream."

    (Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Othello, played by Conant High School sophomore Nathan Rousseau of Jaffrey, right, comforts his wife Desdemona and then smothers her to death in their bed.<br/><br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)

    Othello, played by Conant High School sophomore Nathan Rousseau of Jaffrey, right, comforts his wife Desdemona and then smothers her to death in their bed.


    (Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Jaffrey-Rindge School District's annual Shakespeare Festival<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)

    Jaffrey-Rindge School District's annual Shakespeare Festival

    (Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Conant High School junior Bekah Chiasson of Jaffrey, who plays Juliet, looks on as sophomore Nathan Rousseau of Jaffrey, who plays Othello, sings a solo during the musical portion of their classes' nontraditional Shakespearean play at a rehearsal last week.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)

    Conant High School junior Bekah Chiasson of Jaffrey, who plays Juliet, looks on as sophomore Nathan Rousseau of Jaffrey, who plays Othello, sings a solo during the musical portion of their classes' nontraditional Shakespearean play at a rehearsal last week.

    (Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Jaffrey-Rindge School District's annual Shakespeare Festival<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)

    Jaffrey-Rindge School District's annual Shakespeare Festival

    (Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Conant High School junior Bekah Chiasson of Jaffrey and junior Eli Hodgson of Rindge rehearse their lines as Juliet and Romeo during a recent rehearsal for Friday's Jaffrey-Rindge Shakespeare Festival.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)

    Conant High School junior Bekah Chiasson of Jaffrey and junior Eli Hodgson of Rindge rehearse their lines as Juliet and Romeo during a recent rehearsal for Friday's Jaffrey-Rindge Shakespeare Festival.

    (Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Jaffrey-Rindge eighth grader Lily Germano of Rindge rehearses her role as King Lear at the middle school last week.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)

    Jaffrey-Rindge eighth grader Lily Germano of Rindge rehearses her role as King Lear at the middle school last week.

    (Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • William Shakespeare, played by Conant High School freshman Ted Chartrand of Rindge, left, talks with his wife, Anne Hathaway, played by sophomore Emily Wamboldt of Rindge, about Shakespeare's repertoire during a rehearsal of their classes' original performance last week. <br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)

    William Shakespeare, played by Conant High School freshman Ted Chartrand of Rindge, left, talks with his wife, Anne Hathaway, played by sophomore Emily Wamboldt of Rindge, about Shakespeare's repertoire during a rehearsal of their classes' original performance last week.

    (Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • William Shakespeare, played by Conant High School freshman Ted Chartrand of Rindge, left, talks with his wife, Anne Hathaway, played by sophomore Emily Wamboldt of Rindge, about Shakespeare's repertoire during a rehearsal of their classes' original performance last week. <br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)

    William Shakespeare, played by Conant High School freshman Ted Chartrand of Rindge, left, talks with his wife, Anne Hathaway, played by sophomore Emily Wamboldt of Rindge, about Shakespeare's repertoire during a rehearsal of their classes' original performance last week.

    (Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Jaffrey-Rindge seventh grader Shanleigh Bosse of Jaffrey, left, eighth grader Lily Germano of Rindge and eighth grader Joe Wiley of Rindge rehearse a scene from Shakespeare's "King Lear," which their class will be performing an abridged version of at Friday's Jaffrey-Rindge Shakespeare Festival.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)

    Jaffrey-Rindge seventh grader Shanleigh Bosse of Jaffrey, left, eighth grader Lily Germano of Rindge and eighth grader Joe Wiley of Rindge rehearse a scene from Shakespeare's "King Lear," which their class will be performing an abridged version of at Friday's Jaffrey-Rindge Shakespeare Festival.

    (Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Jaffrey-Rindge seventh grader Shanleigh Bosse of Jaffrey, left, eighth grader Lily Germano of Rindge and eighth grader Joe Wiley of Rindge rehearse a scene from Shakespeare's "King Lear," which their class will be performing an abridged version of at Friday's Jaffrey-Rindge Shakespeare Festival.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)

    Jaffrey-Rindge seventh grader Shanleigh Bosse of Jaffrey, left, eighth grader Lily Germano of Rindge and eighth grader Joe Wiley of Rindge rehearse a scene from Shakespeare's "King Lear," which their class will be performing an abridged version of at Friday's Jaffrey-Rindge Shakespeare Festival.

    (Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea) Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

  • Jaffrey-Rindge School District's annual Shakespeare Festival<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)
  • Conant High School junior Bekah Chiasson of Jaffrey and junior Eli Hodgson of Rindge rehearse their lines as Juliet and Romeo during a recent rehearsal for Friday's Jaffrey-Rindge Shakespeare Festival.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)
  • Jaffrey-Rindge eighth grader Lily Germano of Rindge rehearses her role as King Lear at the middle school last week.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)
  • Conant High School freshman Ted Chartrand of Rindge plays William Shakespeare in an original performance his drama class created for this year's Jaffrey-Rindge Shakespeare Festival.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)
  • Conant High School sophomore Nathan Rousseau of Jaffrey practices the role of Othello during a rehearsal last week. His drama class will perform abridged Shakespearean plays Friday at the Jaffrey-Rindge Shakespeare Festival.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)
  • Conant High School freshman Ryan Skinner of Rindge, who plays Nick Bottom, left, and senior Andrea Turgeon of Jaffrey, who plays Titana, rehearse a romantic scene together from a Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream."<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)
  • Othello, played by Conant High School sophomore Nathan Rousseau of Jaffrey, right, comforts his wife Desdemona and then smothers her to death in their bed.<br/><br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)
  • Jaffrey-Rindge School District's annual Shakespeare Festival<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)
  • Conant High School junior Bekah Chiasson of Jaffrey, who plays Juliet, looks on as sophomore Nathan Rousseau of Jaffrey, who plays Othello, sings a solo during the musical portion of their classes' nontraditional Shakespearean play at a rehearsal last week.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)
  • Jaffrey-Rindge School District's annual Shakespeare Festival<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)
  • Conant High School junior Bekah Chiasson of Jaffrey and junior Eli Hodgson of Rindge rehearse their lines as Juliet and Romeo during a recent rehearsal for Friday's Jaffrey-Rindge Shakespeare Festival.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)
  • Jaffrey-Rindge eighth grader Lily Germano of Rindge rehearses her role as King Lear at the middle school last week.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)
  • William Shakespeare, played by Conant High School freshman Ted Chartrand of Rindge, left, talks with his wife, Anne Hathaway, played by sophomore Emily Wamboldt of Rindge, about Shakespeare's repertoire during a rehearsal of their classes' original performance last week. <br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)
  • William Shakespeare, played by Conant High School freshman Ted Chartrand of Rindge, left, talks with his wife, Anne Hathaway, played by sophomore Emily Wamboldt of Rindge, about Shakespeare's repertoire during a rehearsal of their classes' original performance last week. <br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)
  • Jaffrey-Rindge seventh grader Shanleigh Bosse of Jaffrey, left, eighth grader Lily Germano of Rindge and eighth grader Joe Wiley of Rindge rehearse a scene from Shakespeare's "King Lear," which their class will be performing an abridged version of at Friday's Jaffrey-Rindge Shakespeare Festival.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)
  • Jaffrey-Rindge seventh grader Shanleigh Bosse of Jaffrey, left, eighth grader Lily Germano of Rindge and eighth grader Joe Wiley of Rindge rehearse a scene from Shakespeare's "King Lear," which their class will be performing an abridged version of at Friday's Jaffrey-Rindge Shakespeare Festival.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Alyssa Dandrea)

For one Conant High School drama class, celebrating the works of William Shakespeare and memorizing the Old English vernacular also means putting it to music. In a nontraditional performance of abridged Shakespearean plays, this group of drama students is applying their knowledge and love of musicals in an entirely new way.

“I’ve never seen anything like this done before,” said Conant English teacher Grant Love, whose Introduction to Drama class created the piece. “Music won’t be used as a part of the plot, but rather we have taken Shakespeare’s lyrics and found music for them.”

Scenes from “Hamlet,” “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” “Romeo and Juliet” and “Othello” are among the Shakespearean classics that Love’s class has chosen to include in their one-of-a-kind work. While the characters from each play are kept apart during scenes from each of the plays, they come together at the end in musical celebration — a contemporary twist on Old English literature.

Throughout the performance, William Shakespeare and his wife, Anne Hathaway, narrate and recall moments from Shakespeare’s classics. They intertwine moments of parody, too, keeping the audience on its toes as the group transitions from one abridged play to the next.

The performance will be one of seven to debut at the 21st Annual Jaffrey-Rindge Shakespeare Festival this Friday at the historic Jaffrey Meetinghouse. Approximately 150 students from Rindge Memorial School, Jaffrey Grade School, Jaffrey-Rindge Middle School and Conant High School will perform, beginning at 8:30 a.m. The festival is scheduled to conclude at 1 p.m.

Conant Senior Andrea Turgeon of Jaffrey, who plays Titania, the queen of fairies in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” said at a rehearsal last week that students had a lot of input in this year’s festival performance.

“This is my first time performing in the festival, and I’ve loved every moment leading up to it,” Turgeon said.

Conant freshman Alex Dunn of Jaffrey, who plays Gertrude, Hamlet’s mother and Queen of Denmark in “Hamlet,” said she too is a rookie actor in the festival and is excited about Friday’s performance.

“This role is very deep and fun to play. The speaking parts are minor, but there’s a lot of emotion in what’s said,” Dunn explained.

After completing an educational unit on musicals earlier in the semester, Love said he had 10 students come up to him on separate occasions asking to extend the unit. After that including a musical number in the Shakespeare festival just seemed fitting, he said.

“Trying to do a full musical would have been too much, so we modified it,” Love said. “I’ve seen so much growth in these students over the semester that I wanted the chance to showcase everyone’s skills. We have Hamlet, Othello and Shakespeare, but there is no one lead.”

For five years, Lisa Wiley of Rindge, a media associate at Conant, has served as coordinator of the festival and watched all five of her own children participate. Wiley said last week that the festival is something a lot of people in the community have come to view as tradition.

“This really is a priority for the teachers and the administrators,” Wiley said. “And when the kids see that, it becomes a priority for them, too. Much of this is student-driven and for the teachers it’s a massive amount of work that’s extremely rewarding in the end.”

Alyssa Dandrea can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 228 or adandrea@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter at @alyssadandrea.

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