This is the third year Live has been brought to Memorial High School. The first year, Shakespeare Live! brought Hamlet to the stage, and the following year, Macbeth.
"It first began in the 2003-2004 school year," said Diana Stedman, director of humanities for Memorial High School. "One of the teachers [Donna Sabetta] had a contact with the Shakespeare Theatre Company of New Jersey because she had been taking her classes to the theatre performances at Madison."
"I've been teaching Shakespeare Honors for five years now, and I have taken my kids to field trips to the [main] theatre," said Donna Sabetta. "I thought, wouldn't it be wonderful if we could have this here at Memorial."
The traveling bard
For some of the freshman class, this was the first time they had seen a staged rendition of Romeo and Juliet, which is traditionally studied in ninth grade. The freshmen and seniors had mixed feelings about the 75-minute rendition of the play.
"I thought they were really good actors, but I didn't like the interpretation they gave it," said Giselle Robledo, 15. "There was something missing."
"It was really shortened and a lot of the dialogue was missing, but it still made its point," said Arturo Hidalgo, 17. "And with [the limited] scenery and text, you put yourself in the play more and understand why certain words and actions were taken."
"[Although the play is shorter], it's really to wet their appetite and to get a taste for the theatre," said Stedman.
The students agreed that seeing the story live brought about a new understanding as opposed to just reading it in the classroom.
"Overall, I thought it was a really good play and the actors were very gifted and talented," said Arthur Meliksetian, 14. "In my opinion it's always better for students to have a visual; it gives you examples to refer to from the text."
"It makes the interpretation a lot easier because you see their facial expressions and actions, and in class its just words off a page," said Joseph Ruminjo, 18.
Questions and answers
Following the performance, the actors held a question and answer session for the students.
"The questions were great; the kids were asking things such as how they managed to how they keep the [material] fresh, especially since they have done 90 performances of the same program," said Stedman.
"One of the actors said that for every performance, he always tries to put himself in the character as if he was there," said Arthur Meliksetian.
In true touring theatre fashion, the company from Live brings everything necessary from props to costumes, which are usually kept simple and mostly modern.
"They bring everything with them and do the complete set up; we just supply the lighting," said Stedman. "Everyone was really helpful, especially Principal Sinisi, for allowing me to work the schedule."
The non-profit organization Shakespeare Theatre Company of New Jersey, which is celebrating its 44th season, is one of the leading Shakespeare theatres in the nation, serving 100,000 adults and children annually.