Grand Island High School students were having fun earlier this month making a scene bringing to life the Shakespeare of their English classes on the stage and screen.
It was the inaugural Shakespeare in the Mall festival, in which students celebrated the Bard's works with theatrical and musical performances, videos, artwork, board games and a trivia contest.
The action called to mind a line from "The Taming of the Shrew" -- "Frame thy mind to mirth and merriment, which bars a thousand harms and lengthens life."
"We wanted to celebrate Shakespeare and celebrate our kids celebrating Shakespeare," said English teacher Ardeth Kasahara, the main organizer of the event centered in the school's Viking Mall.
The spark for the English Department's project came from Principal Sandra Anzalone. She recalled the fun of joining administrators, faculty and students in acting out scenes from Shakespeare during lunch periods at Williamsville East High School when she was assistant principal there.
Many of the Grand Island High School English Department's nine teachers donned costumes for parts in scenes on the auditorium stage. Kasahara was one of the witches from "Macbeth," and Tony Miller portrayed the title character from "Julius Caesar."
"My students can't wait to assassinate me," quipped Miller.
The pace of the three-hour event was helped along by the evening's emcee: senior Tom Rall, garbed as a jester. Puns abounded as he fielded the trivia rounds interspersed among the performances. Grand prize was a Barnes & Noble gift card.
Student-written and student-produced videos based on Shakespeare's works included a humorous reinterpretation of a scene from "Macbeth" as an episode of NBC's "The Office." "Macbeth" got another treatment, with hand puppets acting out Act V Scene I, in which a doctor and gentlewoman observe Lady Macbeth sleepwalking.
Senior Rebecca Gasiorek said she and fellow puppeteers Randy Rogoza and Brendan Lutnick "added a bit of humor" by having the doctor and gentlewoman speak in contemporary English, while Lady Macbeth sticks with the Elizabethan.
Gasiorek said the Shakespeare evening is "really cool because we've never done this before, and it's cool that so many kids volunteered to come."
Musical entertainment included an original piece by student cellist Alex Cousins and choral works by a group of students including sophomore Maggie Chauby, who recently sang at Carnegie Hall after winning a competition.
Among the artwork on display were "Julius Caesar" inspired T-shirt designs created by students of Magdalene Kennedy, who -- though garbed as a female character -- delivered Marc Antony's funeral oration from that play. The phrases "Et Tu Brute" and "Beware the Ides of March" were popular T-shirt slogans.
Student creativity was also evident in drawings of various Shakespearean characters, including MacHomer, showing Homer Simpson dreaming of a bloody sword; poster collages -- one including Kim Kardashian -- that illustrated some of Shakespeare's sonnets; and board games, including one based on the Bard's life.