Yesterday was quite the treat, as my husband and I chaperoned Ridgefield High School to the annual Fall Festival of Shakespeare in downtown Portland. This year was especially exciting because the emcee was Sarah Jessica Parker. Alas, she was a no-show thanks to a scheduling pushback on Glee. I’m sure the fact that there was a major hurricane in her hometown of New York didn’t help matters either.
The day was filled with four plays from four high schools with Ridgefield performing last. Sadly, the other three schools’s leads had some line issues and ended up with scripts in hand for a majority of the plays, which in turn meant some scenes were skipped and major plot points not-so-much revealed, but the show must go on. At one point, in order to break the awkward silence as the male lead fumbled through his script to locate his next line during a dinner banquet, another character raises his glass and shouts, “Kazah!” and everyone at the table repeats with raised glasses. Finding out after the plays that some of these main roles were cast only a week ago made up for the lack of memorization. However, one character who really stood out was Mercutio from Romeo and Juliet, a part I have always loved and would love to play. His performance was amazing, filled with an abundance of confidence and sexual double entendres that character needs. It was a shock to learn that was one of the recasting decisions made the week prior, because he was spot on and had every witty line down with perfect timing.
The audience was also amazing, mostly filled with kids from the other schools participating in the event. When these actors were obviously struggling to remember their lines, they would suddenly burst out into applause, giving them a few seconds to regroup or allow a fellow cast member to help without obviously helping. Hoots, hollers, ohs, ahs, clapping and boisterous laughter were aplenty, making the actors much more engaged with the audience. When all was said and done, the kids had a fantastic time, and Ridgefield pulled off a cohesive condensed version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream without a hitch in what was their best performance. I have a feeling an audience mostly made up of their peers from schools around the Southwest Washington and Portland Metro area helped with that.
I’m always sad when these plays and events are over, because it makes me wish I could be more involved. Perhaps the only way is to go back to school and either study drama or become a teacher. Hmmm… the thought so intrigues me.