The Chicago Shakespeare Slam Performs Virtually!

There are many aspects of life a disease cannot stop. In fact, two diseases could not stop Shakespeare. The bubonic plague in his early childhood would provide him material in such works as Romeo and Juliet. The second disease being Covid not being able to stop the spirit of Shakespeare in the lives of many students who attended the Shakespeare Slam.  The Chicago Shakespeare Slam is a program where many students from different schools would gather and perform Shakespeare in their own unique way. In case it was not obvious, Covid has affected the Shakespeare Slam´s plans. 

The Chicago Shakespeare Slam did not let Covid ruin plans for this year´s Shakespeare Slam. It decided to go virtual. A somewhat rough territory for theater groups. It had obstacles such as coordination among the schools, editing, and just the planning itself. But at last, they were successful. The Shakespeare Slam was able to release their proud efforts online on youtube. Each school that participated has done a good job in interpreting different acts and scenes from one of Shakespeare’s works, Hamlet.  In fact, two students from Addison Trail were able to reenact Act Three of Hamlet and provided their thoughts on the whole process.

Petya Haralnova and Hailey Chiovino have been given the opportunity to act as Hamlet and Ophelia in the Act where Hamlet begins his descent into madness or into his fraudulent madness, whatever one likes to agree with. They prove that a big budget is not necessary and that you can send a message through the small stuff. Petya as Hamlet has her lighting a bit dark and a bit cold. While Hailey as Ophelia has brighter lighting, as a way to show the contrast and conflict between the two. What the Shakespeare Slam video explains is that schools will use color to represent certain characters. Petya as Hamlet dressed in black while Hailey as Ophelia has given Hamlet a purple pen.

(Left) Petya as Hamlet, (Right) Hailey as Ophelia

¨We decided to use a pen because it´s kinda like…first of all, it´s like an easy object everybody has a pen in their house. Second of all, because the colors were representing the characters in a way. Blue that she had was representing her character…cause she was giving part of herself to Hamlet.¨

-Petya Haralnova

The Chicago Shakespeare  Slam was definitely needed for those who have a passion for Shakespeare and Theater, to be able to continue in these bleak times. Petya and Hailey still wanted to continue.

¨The people involved in the club and teachers running it kept her [Hailey]  in it because they have always been there for her [Hailey]. This group is like a second home¨.

-Petya Haralnova and Hailey Chiovino

It is obvious that if there was no pandemic that it would have been way more fun than what it already is. They miss getting together with other schools and having to perform. They also miss the obstacles and little problems that would happen during the events. 

Overall, Petya Haralanova and Hailey Chiovino have done a great job portraying Hamlet and Ophelia in Act Three, Scene 1. It was wonderful to see them put on a show despite there being a pandemic. Both students highly recommend this program to new students who are thinking of joining future Shakespeare Slams. Here is Petya´s message to all those interested.

¨Just do it. Don´t care what anybody says about Shakespeare. If you really, really want to do it, try your best and let Shakespeare get inside you, get real comfortable under your skin, and perform.¨

-Petya Haralnova

If you want to watch the show yourself, you can watch it here:

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Anthony Perez is a First-Timer Senior in the AT Torch Staff. He chose to take part in the Torch to improve as a writer and to get out of his comfort zone. He decided that was the best choice as he loves the work because he views it as challenging yet fun.