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Shakespeare collaborative triumphs over budget cuts

Posted By Michael Fuchs On May 13, 2009 @ 11:57 am In Arts and Entertainment | Comments Disabled

The annual Newton North/Newton South Shakespeare collaborative Macbeth soldiers on despite this year’s budget cuts to the theatre programs.

“Shakespeare has proven himself able to bring out the struggle of the human heart, but it seems Shakespeare has more recently brought out the struggles here in Newton, said Jim Honeyman, a Newton South English teacher and director of last year’s Shakespeare play, Romeo and Juliet.

In May of 2008 the FY09 Allocation Budget, which encompasses all areas of the Newton School System, was formulated to itemize what support various school programs would receive. In the report, Supplementary Music and Drama was cut by 24%, which included “The loss of all elementary plays and musicals, the reduction of middle school theatre productions by one half, and the elimination of the joint high school Shakespeare Project. 

As a result, after 25 years of bringing the works of Shakespeare to life, the North and South Shakespeare program was about to be eliminated.  

Cast member sophomore Abi Oshins was beyond upset when she heard that Newton’s treasured Shakespeare program was going to be eliminated from the school system’s budget. 

“I was so mad, I said that I’d fund the show myself if I had to but I wasn’t going to let them take away Shakespeare, she said.

“The Shakespeare production just means so much to those involved and I think that that will be made apparent to audiences when they come see Macbeth, Oshins said.

Nonetheless, almost miraculously, this year’s Shakespeare production, Macbeth, is scheduled for  May 14-16 in South’s Seaholes  Auditorium.  

“I think what [the Newton School System] did was they started charging fees for elementary school instrumental lessons and that allowed them to make up the funds that they would have to cut from us, said Theatre Department head, Jeff Knoedler.

The cast and crew of Macbeth are grateful for the chance to once more be a part of Newton tradition. Knoedler agrees with Oshins that the Shakespeare program is indispensable. 

“I think it is valuable that we have Shakespeare productions at our school.  I think it’s a great asset to the community because it involves both North and South. Principal Brian Salzer said.

Oshins is thrilled about her show’s highly acclaimed premiere.  The directors and cast have embraced the fact that Shakespeare is open for interpretation, thus the directors may incorporate modern elements by using more current army attire found at a salvation depository. 

Oshins also explains the show is an enjoyable bonding experience for students from the different schools. Before they begin to review scenes from the script, the entire cast participates in a warm-up game. “There was a clear separation between the North and South kids, but by this point we’ve really bonded with each other.  The North kids are so talented and so much fun to work with, Oshins said.

Knoedler also believes that the show has offered an opportunity for students from Newton North and South to work together as a single company. “We have a North lighting designer for Macbeth and some others are working on the show, Knoedler said.

Overall, the cast each year for the Shakespeare program is usually split equally between students from North and South.

Knoedler also reveals that Macbeth was chosen due to its salability and rousing script.

“We wanted a play that was marketable¦ It was a play that people could get excited about, Knoedler said.

With a play that people know and felt passionate about, South stage could work towards protecting it’s funding.

Ultimately, Shakespeare offers a challenging script that challenges the actors with unique language.

“Stylistically radically different from the way modern people think, because Shakespeare puts it in the language and modern playwrights don’t, Honeyman said.

Macbeth provides for many actors the chance to sharpen their skills so that they can apply their acting to a wide variety of texts and scripts. 

For Oshins, Macbeth has given her a rewarding experience as both an actor and a human being. Like many participating actors, the Shakespeare program has convinced her to continue to act in Shakespeare’s plays and perhaps direct Shakespearean productions in the near future.

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URL to article: http://www.denebolaonline.net/2009/05/13/shakespeare-collaborative-triumphs-over-budget-cuts/

URLs in this post:

[1] South Stage may swap productions: http://www.denebolaonline.net/2007/10/25/south-stage-may-swap-productions/

[2] Cut the scenery change: http://www.denebolaonline.net/2007/11/21/cut-the-scenery-change/

[3] Costume department seamlessly threads together: http://www.denebolaonline.net/2009/10/21/costume-department-seamlessly-threads-together/

[4] Art Focus: Justin Danforth: http://www.denebolaonline.net/2007/10/25/art-focus-justin-danforth/

[5] Vaudeville meshes together diverse talent in one show: http://www.denebolaonline.net/2010/10/28/vaudeville-meshes-together-diverse-talent-in-one-show/

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