The Student News Site of West Windsor-Plainsboro High School South

The Pirate's Eye

The Student News Site of West Windsor-Plainsboro High School South

The Pirate's Eye

The Student News Site of West Windsor-Plainsboro High School South

The Pirate's Eye

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Parting with “Romeo and Juliet” is such a sweet sorrow

South’s Fall Drama performance. Left to right: Rachel Cheung (‘24), Connor Pool (‘24), Dia Jha (‘27), Shray Sharma (‘25), Surmai Agrawal (‘24), Haleema Hameed Aslam (‘27), Sriteja Thodima (‘27).

The timeless words of Shakespeare transported audience members to 15th-century Verona on Nov. 17 and 18. The dim, yellow glow of the playhouse set the stage for the fall production of “Romeo and Juliet.”

South theater brought in modern elements to enhance the play, while at the same time capturing the Elizabethan essence it requires. The fall drama consisted of a 20-member cast, who began rehearsing in the beginning of the school year.

“We practiced after school till 5:00 p.m. and on Saturdays, from 10:00 a.m. to 5: 00 p.m. I committed most of my time to the drama, and it was pretty hard to organize my schedule,” said Dia Jha (‘27), who played Angelica, Juliet’s nurse. “It takes work, but if you really want to do something, you have to pursue it.”

The time commitment by Jha and other members extended beyond just the rehearsal space.

Stage crew member Angelina Berrios (‘24) said, “The detrimental part of making the scene look different were the specific props and furniture look inspired by the Elizabethan Era.” Props and furniture included a throne, a white bed, and a balcony, transforming the playhouse into a Verona-esque setting.

The visually appealing setting and dramatic acting left a lasting impact on the audience. Nadia Burston (‘24), who attended the play on Saturday, said, “It’s interesting, the playhouse now holds more memories than school meetings. I remember things like the balcony where Romeo confessed his love and the castle-like backdrop.” These lasting impressions add to the thrill of performing.

“To show this art to so many people was thrilling. I felt like when I first danced on stage. It was… wow. The energy from the crowd was encouraging,” said Haleema Hameed Aslam (‘27), who played Lady Montague.

The backdrops and audience reactions were a few elements that made the theater come alive.

The dialogue delivery of the cast added to the intricacy of the iambic pentameter and the rich theme of this drama.

Following Romeo of Montague, played by Shray Sharma, and Juliet of Capulet, played by Surmai Agrawal, the drama centers around the love shared between these teenagers despite ancestral feuds between their families.

Memorizing lines of Shakespearean English that tell this love story is no easy task.

“It’s hard to memorize all those lines and understand what you are saying and be able to bring it across to an audience,” said director and AP Literature and Composition teacher Ms. Dara Sheller. “You have to be really smart and in touch with your feelings.”

Composing these complex dialogues requires experience, which created another challenge in the production.

“Back in September, very few upper class men auditioned, so most of the roles were filled by freshmen, who did not have the same stage and life experience,” said Ms. Sheller.

The low turnout prompted females to fill in for male roles. “It’s funny, male roles were filled by females, the complete opposite of what used to happen in Elizabethan England, where all the roles were played by men,” said Ms. Sheller.

The casting dynamics added a unique layer to the performance, breaking away from traditional gender norms associated with the play.

Rachel Cheung (‘24), played Mercutio, Romeo’s male witty best friend. She said, “It was a step out of my comfort zone, but playing Mercutio got me to be outgoing and allowed me to let loose, to do justice to the character.”

Living up to the standard of one of the greatest love stories is no easy task.

Seeing women play the roles of men would have caught Shakespeare off guard almost 450 years ago. But, it is testament to how far theater, and South has come.

“I can’t imagine having had a different cast now, so it was one of those blessings in disguise situations,” said Ms. Sheller.


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