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Shakespeare Fest turns 25

  • Students participate in the inaugural Shakespeare Festival in 1993. Courtesy photo

  • Students participate in the inaugural Shakespeare Festival in 1993. Courtesy photo

  • The 24th Annual Shakespeare Festival took place on Friday, May 20, 2016 at the Jaffrey Meetinghouse. About 225 Jaffrey-Rindge students of various grade levels acted out scenes of some of Shakespeare's best works.  Staff photo by Nicholas Handy

  • The 24th Annual Shakespeare Festival took place on Friday, May 20, 2016 at the Jaffrey Meetinghouse. About 225 Jaffrey-Rindge students of various grade levels acted out scenes of some of Shakespeare's best works.  Staff photo by Nicholas Handy



Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Tuesday, May 16, 2017 7:34AM

The Jaffrey-Rindge Shakespeare Festival will celebrate its 25th anniversary this Friday.

Festival founder Marjorie Margolis said in a phone interview Saturday that starting the annual festival was “the best thing I ever did.” While she admits that last year may have been a growth year for the festival, Margolis believes this year has the makings of an all-time great. 

“It all has do with the spirit in the room,” said Margolis. “It’s all about everyone being directly involved. It sounds like this will be a good year.”

Margolis decided to begin the festival after attending a workshop at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington D.C. Her original goal for the festival was to bring some unity to the English department at Conant High School, a goal she said was never met, but she has found that students of all ages and academic abilities have been up to the challenge. 

“It’s a lot of work,” said Margolis. “But I’ve seen elementary kids ask for more lines. They go right for it.”

Margolis – who currently teaches a Shakespeare class at Brandeis University –  said that participating in the festival is no small feat, as students are expected to learn condensed versions of Shakespeare’s works with no paraphrasing of his language. 

Margolis – who said she has been a “self-appointed watch dog” for the festival since giving up the chairmanship in 2004 – said the event has been able to grow as festival organizers and teachers have learned more and become more invested.

For example, Margolis said that hiring Mistress of the Revels Cam McGee early on helped bring a coherence to the event. In early events, students were able to go outside and play wiffle ball and other games, but now the festival requires participants to watch their peers performances. 

“She has been with us long enough that students know all of the games that she plays,” said Margolis. “A lot of the kids can’t wait to play.”

Shakespeare Festival will take place from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Jaffrey Meetinghouse. 

Nicholas Handy can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 235 or nhandy@ledgertranscript.com. He is also on Twitter @nhandyMLT.