Shakespeare 2020 Ends on a High Note

The Georgetown Shakespeare Festival continued on February 1 with an evening performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  The turnout was excellent, with over 225 tickets sold. Theatre patrons waited in the hall downstairs for the doors to open, sipping on bubbly and nibbling delicious food provided by our wonderful PTO.  At 7:00, everyone streamed in to find a seat and the music began.  The audience was enthusiastic and appreciative of yet another amazing performance by the ASC.  This was our best crowd so far.

Mrs. Crosby serves Elizabethan desserts to Blake and Kipper as other MS students get their main dish.

Monday morning, February 3, middle school students brought in mysterious platters and bowls for Elizabethan Food Day, storing them on tables and in various refrigerators until lunch.   They had chosen a recipe from Shakespeare’s day to prepare.  At 12:30, the buffet was ready and Mrs. Crosby had all the students explain their offerings.  Here are a few samples from the groaning table: Jai’Den’s meat pies, Evan’s cheese tarte, Morgan’s chicken pie, Mrs. Crosby’s lamb dumplings, Annika’s currant bread, Hannah and Gabby’s hot cross buns, Quinn’s soup, Fletcher’s mini meat pies.  We all tried something new, and it was good.

As Harold (J’Marion) and Gerald (Morgan) recite to Dr. Alison (Camper), the Walrus (Mason) and the Carpenter (Baryk) reflect on the best way to remove sand from a beach. Seven maids with seven mops? (Hannah, Bristol, Ay’Shona, Gabby, Destiny, Stone, Annika)

The rest of the week was spent preparing for our two drama productions, adapted and directed by our wonderful drama coach, Mr. Daniel Bumgardner.

The Young Oysters (Bryan, Gracin, Kipper) realize that they are dinner.

First up on Thursday evening was Tweedle, Mr. Bumgardner’s whimsical staging of poetry from Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass, performed by the middle school.  The frame story had two elderly brothers in a nursing home entertaining their doctor by reciting “The Walrus and the Carpenter.” In this classic example of Victorian nonsense, a walrus and a carpenter discuss the amount of sand on the beach, then proceed to eat several young oysters who made the mistake of going for a walk with them.  “Our oyster costumes are so cool,” said Kipper. “Mr. B took coat hangers and tee shirts and made them for us.”

Montjoy (Kate) delivers an insulting message from the Dauphin of France to Harry (Manny) as Exeter (Mr. B), a Council Member (Kelsi), and Westmoreland (Ella) look on.

The high school did a short version of Shakespeare’s Henry V, featuring Manny as Harry.  A static arrangement of chairs on the stage suggested a throne room and uneasy cello music highlighted the political crisis facing the young king.  Characters acted at the front of the stage, on intermediate risers, and on the floor of the Auditorium, animating their speeches about war, diplomacy, justice, and courage.  It was a thrilling performance. Congratulations to the cast, backstage people, and technicians for a job well done, and a huge thank-you to Mr. Bumgardner and his helpers for all their hard work.

Scroop (Ella), Cambridge (Kate), and Salisbury (Margaret) beg for mercy when Harry hears of their treachery.
The Daupin (Margaret) argues with Exeter (Mr. B) over Harry’s claim to France.

Now it’s time to put away all the giant Shakespeare posters, props, and scripts until next year.  O Kingfishers, ye are a rare, sweet honey-tongued, well-wishing band of players!

Harry is now King Henry V and our play is done.

Shakespeare Festival Begins!

The American Shakespeare Center blazed into the Winyah Auditorium Thursday, January 30, and completely enchanted us with their rollicking performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  About 300 area students from GMS, MBMS, and Coastal Carolina took their seats as the actors warmed up the house with live music featuring bass fiddle, guitar, saxophone, percussion, and voice.  Eight lucky students got to sit on stage with the actors, a convention from Shakespeare’s day.  With all the lights on, we enjoyed a far-fetched scenario of nobles, fairies, and laborers by actors who were not afraid to get physical.  Puck (Maddie Calais) and Bottom (Topher Embrey) particularly surprised and delighted the crowd with their antics.  “You guys laughed at all the right places,” Maddie told us later.  “You are a great audience.”

At the end of the performance, the whole house stood and gave the ASC a standing ovation.  “I like how they made Shakespeare appealing to kids,” said Stone, who was not expecting the play to be “so modern.”

After the play, students ate pizza on the front lawn with their new friends from GMS and MBMS.  Later, we watched as they all boarded a long line of yellow buses to get back to their schools.  Then we went back into the Auditorium for a talk by Dr. Tripthi Pillai, professor of Early Modern Literature at CCU.  The actors joined us.

Dr. Pillai focused on audience engagement—how the original spectators would have received A Midsummer Night’s Dream and how it continues to engage modern audiences by focusing on urgent issues of class, gender, and the nature of humor. “As a Shakespearean, I am told every day that my work is irrelevant,” she said.  “It is an honor to see all of you relating to Shakespeare.”  She discussed several themes and kept the floor open for student comments. “It was more like a conversation than a lecture,” said Camper.  Camper had raised her hand to answer Dr. Pillai’s question about which marriage in the play was the creepiest.

Dr. Pillai and the actors themselves were very impressed with our students’ familiarity with A Midsummer Night’s Dream, thanks to summer reading for the high school and graphic novels for middle school.  Some students were able to shout out lines during the interactive portions of the performance.  Our students all were well-informed about the plot and names of characters.  They asked intelligent questions and gave thoughtful answers when questions were posed.  Dr. Pillau encouraged us at the end.  “You are vibrant with imagination,” she said.  “You should embrace it—make it big!”

After the talk, we sang Happy Birthday to Dr. Pillai and settled down for one of the ASC’s most important workshops: “Embedded Stage Directions in Shakespeare.”  Maddie Calais (Puck/Philostrate) and Alexis Baigue (Peaseblossom/Thisbe) taught us that in Shakespeare’s day, actors had different tasks in preparing for a performance than they would today.  There was no such thing as a director and no such thing as stage directions.  Playwrights would make it clear through dialogue what props, actions and tone were necessary.  Actors interpreted the lines and decided how to stage the play.  Our job was to identify embedded stage directions in a passage from A Midsummer Night’s Dream and act them out.

We are so privileged to be able to work each year with the actors of the ASC. Though the troupe changes from year to year, there are always familiar and welcome faces. Their energy, creativity, and professionalism are amazing. We are also honored to have gotten to know Dr. Pillai, who has promised that next year her CCU students will read the same Shakespeare play as our students so that our English classes can do something fun with hers in 2021.

A Trip to Narnia

Although it was the coldest day of the year so far, Middle Schoolers were lively and excited on the morning of January 21 as everyone from grades 5-8 packed into various SUVs and headed off to Charleston. Their destination was the Dock Street Theater, where they had tickets to Charleston Stage’s production of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.

First things first, though. Lunching at the downtown Waterfront Park, Kingfishers were chilled and whipped by the wind coming off of Charleston Harbor. Mrs. Crosby very thoughtfully had packed thermoses of hot chocolate for all the kids and chaperons. She turned an outdoor meal into a treat.

Everyone was glad to be snug in their seats at the Dock Street by 11:30, where they were soon drawn into C. S. Lewis’ “classic tale of discovery and adventure” with Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy.

“It wasn’t like the book,” said Blake. “They took out a lot of scenes and put more details into other scenes.” Corrin said it was fun. The students enjoyed the performance, but most agreed with Hayden that “reading the book was better.”

Thank you to Mrs. Crosby for the hot chocolate and for arranging the outing. Thank you to our parent drivers, as well: Ms. Craig, Mr. Paul, Ms. Pat, and Ms. Michele.

Shakespeare is Coming… via Louisiana

We are going down to the bayou! An enchanted swamp full of hobgoblins and nymphs awaits us when the American Shakespeare Center’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream hits the stage at the Winyah Auditorium. The Georgetown School is proud to be hosting this amazing troupe of traveling actors in our sixth annual Shakespeare Festival.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream, directed by Nathan Winkelstein, is one of Shakespeare’s most accessible and popular plays, featuring beloved characters like the oblivious Bottom, feisty Helena, and devilish Puck–all played by the talented young actors of the ASC.

Our students have been getting ready for the performances by reading A Midsummer Night’s Dream in their English classes. Miss Grippo and Mrs. Crosby have their middle school students working through a graphic novel version, while the 9th and 10th graders tackled the play in its original version for summer reading with Dr. Simmons. Students have also been checking out the ASC website to see which of our favorite actors are coming back this year.

The ASC preserves the theatrical conventions of Shakespeare’s day: universal lighting, seating on the stage, cross-gender casting, and audience/player interaction. Every year, the ASC wows us with their live music performances, chosen from popular genres that reinforce the themes of the play. This year’s music was inspired by be-bop, bluegrass, and barbershop.

The first performance is a matinee for area English and Drama students on Thursday, January 31, after which Kingfishers will hear a talk by Shakespearian scholar, Dr. Tripthi Pillai of CCU. The second performance, on Saturday, February 1 at 7:00 is open to the public.

For tickets to the February 1 performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, visitwww.georgetownshakespearefestival.org or call the school at 520-4359. Tickets are $35 and general admission.

North Island 2019

North Island is a picturesque wilderness located only miles from the shores of Winyah Bay.  Over the years, it has played a significant part in the history of our community.  From the planned (and failed) Spanish colony by Lucas Vazquez de Ayllon in 1526, to the abandoned canal project of 1802, the island has always been a central part of South Carolina’s past.

Our seniors took a trip to the island this fall, and they were amazed by what they saw.  The boat pulled up next to an old, rotting dock, where several pieces were missing from the deck.  After climbing up the dock and onto shore, they got their first glimpse of the famous North Island lighthouse: an 85-foot structure made entirely of cut stone and brick.  At the base of the lighthouse is an old Coast Guard base, untouched since it was abandoned in the early 1980s.  After exploring the base, their tour guide, Mr Jim Lee, led students to the top of the lighthouse.

“The view was nice,”  Camille shared, “But the wasps were a bit much.  I don’t like wasps.”  After their time the lighthouse, the group headed back down to ground level.  There, their tour guide Mr Jim pulled out his compass and asked them if they would like to see the ocean.

“Keep up, slowpokes!”  Margaret teased the others as she, Ryleigh, and Mr Jim led the hike through the woods.  Far behind them, the others struggled to avoid thorny branches and dangling palm fronds as they made their way up the slope and across the island.  The hike took some time, but the end result was worth it: the trees gave way to towering dunes, which ended in a steep cliff just above the sandy beach.  After carefully negotiating their way down the slope, they settled down to eat their lunches.

The journey back was just as breathtaking.  From mounds of shells to towering forests of driftwood, the views were perfect.  It was easy to see why Lafayette, when he first landed on the island, called it DeBordieu, which translates to “the borderland of God.”  By the time the group reached the dock, everyone had collected more shells than they could carry.  It was an exciting adventure, and after a long day on the island, they were all ready to head home.  Thank you to Mr Jim and the Tom Yawkey Foundation for giving us this amazing opportunity.

By Ryleigh

Mock Trial

Last Saturday, the middle school Mock Trial team met at the Municipal Center to compete in their regional competition, sponsored by the SC Bar Association.  Team sponsors Dr Gates and local lawyer Liz Attias were there to guide them, but now it was up to the students. They presented their case in a real courtroom, judged by a panel of real-life judges.  The team consisted of Destiny, Matthew, Camper, Stone, J’Marion, Bristol, Corin, Evan, Kipper, and Blake. “It was hard. It was challenging.” Destiny explained. “I messed up one thing, but I think I did pretty well.”

The team won several awards from the competition.  They won the first round, in which their plaintiffs went up against another team’s defense.  Although they lost their own defensive round, the team was pleased with their results. Camper was named the Most Effective Plaintiff, and Fletcher was named Most Effective Witness for their round.  “It was very long and tiring,” Camper admitted. “But in the end, it was a lot of fun!”

By Ryleigh

Robotics Victory

After months of hard work and practice, the middle school Robotics Team was ready to compete in their first competition of the year.  Annika, Morgan, Baryck, Mason, Gracin, Quinn, Bryan, Gabby, and Ay’Shona were excited to show off their skills and explore the world of LEGO robotics. On November 9, the team piled into Mrs Crosby’s car and set off to Ten Oaks Middle School, where the Grand Strand Qualifying Tournament was being held.  This year’s challenge was to create a robot that could help a blind person shop for groceries. “We did good on a lot of things,” Annika recalled, “But our robot was kind of acting up a bit. It was definitely a fun experience.”

The team, which they named the Angry Nerds, took home the Core Values Award.  This highly-coveted award gave them enough points to qualify for the state competition.  Although they did not win anything else, the Angry Nerds had a great time showing off their technical skills and learned a lot about robotics.  The next competition will be held on December 14 at Cane Bay Middle School, and the team is looking forward to it.

By Ryleigh

The Spooky Season

Since the first days of October, the anticipation had been building to celebrate the “spooky season.”  The last day of the month, the day we’ve been waiting for was finally here: Halloween. Disguised as everything from cowboys to ghosts, almost the entire school was dressed to impress for the special day.  “We’re the Spice Girls!” Mrs. Patrick announced, sporting a red apron and a seasoning label along with several of her fellow teachers. Other highlights included a penguin, Wednesday Addams, a turtle, witches, superheros, movie characters, and a pair of middle-schoolers jointly disguised as a horse.

At lunch, teachers and students lined up their cars outside for a Trunk-n-Treat.  As students piled candy (and clementines) into their bags, they chatted about the day and their plans for that night.  Immediately after the Trunk-n-Treat, students showed off their costumes in the annual Halloween parade. “It’s the best holiday,” Ryleigh sighed wistfully. “And I can’t wait to start planning my costume for next year.”  Thanks to student president Margaret and to the entire Student Council for getting the day organized!

By Ryleigh

Oysters in the afternoon

Our hot, humid fall weather broke just in time for the 7th Annual Oyster Roast on November 3.  Sunday afternoon was crisp and sunny—perfect for eating oysters under the big tent in Francis Marion Park.  After weeks of careful preparation by the PTO, everything was ready: tables and chairs set up, plywood delivered, bake sale and silent auction items on display, and Will Ness playing his tunes.

There were also three propane cookers in the parking lot cranking out piles and piles of steaming bivalves!  It was an amazing afternoon full of good food, sunshine, and friendship, all for the benefit of our scholarship fund.

Our leadership in this endeavor was awesome—thank you, Niki Howard, Sandy Martin, and Susie Kaminski.  Thank you, students, for pitching in (even though you didn’t get to keep your tips!) and thank you, parents, for pulling together to make this the most successful Oyster Roast to date. Our gratitude to the Family Justice Center for the use of the tables, chairs, and tents.