CVHS Takes on the Bard

By McKenna MIDDLETON, intern

The works of William Shakespeare are often dismissed as incomprehensible, especially by high school students who prefer Cliffs Notes to the real thing. Joanne McGee-Lamb chose to direct Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night” at Crescenta Valley High School in an interactive way in hopes of changing the way students view Shakespeare.

“The hope is to make the words and language of Shakespeare understandable, clear, accessible and memorable to all,” McGee-Lamb said of her production.

The play was shortened from three hours to just an hour and a half as part of achieving this goal. And it seemed to work.

Watching the performances unfold, the audience was surprised to find an easy to understand play that was a true comedy. Just as Shakespeare had to write to a mixed audience of high and low class, including both witty and raunchy humor in his comedies, the CVHS rendition of “Twelfth Night” appealed to parents and students alike.

“The production was a collaboration between me and the kids. We all added some of the comedy,” McGee-Lamb said.

The lines of Shakespeare were delivered clearly and were supplemented with actions that furthered their meaning, making the play easy and fun to follow.

Each actor – from Viola to Soldier 1 – stood out in this production. The months of rehearsals were evident in the flawless line delivery and character development of the entire cast.

“With any other play, the plot is quite simple to figure out, but with Shakespeare a person has to see beyond his words to figure out what is happening,” senior Jesse Gabor, who played the lead of Viola, said of preparing for the performances.

The show was interactive when characters included audience members in the play, inducing even more laughter from the playgoers. There was even a piano underscore that enhanced the words and actions of the characters.

Overall, the CVHS performance of “Twelfth Night” was funny, engaging, and thought provoking. If the constant stream of laughter that erupted from the audience was any indication, McGee-Lamb’s vision of inspiring the audience to become interested in Shakespeare was a success.