Preuss Welcomes Families and Staff to the 2021 Shakespeare Festival

Ensuring that the tradition stays alive despite the effects of the pandemic for a second year in a row, Mr. Rocca will be hosting this year’s annual Shakespeare Festival over Zoom on June 4th at 7pm.

This year the Drama I, Drama II, and Musical Theatre classes, who are putting together the 2021 Shakespeare Festival, have been going through the process of rehearsing, filming, and editing. All students involved have added times and dates in which they are needed to film, pick up costumes, and rehearse their lines to their end of the year schedule.

Mr. Rocca explains, “It has been a fantastic and creatively rejuvenating process to work online! Because I am a filmmaker, I have thoroughly enjoyed the process of being able to transform our previous live traditions into ‘movie events’ through the use of Zoom and editing technology. This has in fact been so inspiring to me that I intend to fuse the concepts of Film and Drama together when we are back in person next school year!”

He continues to share, “I have enjoyed being able to maintain a real sense of creative control over productions in a way that at times was impossible due to some of the technology restrictions of in-person plays in the past. That is why we will be doing a lot of filming next year, to merge the best of both worlds together.”

This year’s Shakespeare Festival is meaningful to those who are graduating this year, as some of the actors have been participating in these productions since the 9th grade. Starting out as Oompa Loompas in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, to performing in their first musical 16, a revamped version of the Broadway musical, 13, to putting on the first online Shakespeare Festival last Spring in 2020.

Mariel Castro (‘21) recaps her time in drama by saying, “Ah, after four glorious years of being a part of the Shakespeare Festival productions, whether on stage or behind the scene, in person or online, I’m sad that my last memory of this Preuss legacy will be performed online. At least there will be a recording commemorating my last performance online forever which the Preuss community can enjoy watching as many times as they please!”

Melanie Camacho (‘21) reflects on the past two online theater experiences saying, “It was a bittersweet experience. It was a little weird having it all on Zoom and not actually being able to enjoy being in the classroom, but I will definitely hold on to the memories made.”

Lexa Lara adds, “[It’s] honestly kind of disappointing because it’s not in person, but I think the script was good. It would’ve been better in person, though. I loved musical theatre in person. It was so much fun and I’m glad we got to do that!”

This year’s Shakespeare Festival will be combining different aspects of Shakesepeare’s writing to present a new concept to the school. Mr. Rocca has been working hard to put together a spectacular show in order to make up for not being able to present the play in person.

While on a time crunch, Mr. Rocca reveals, “We just wrapped production (filming) on Friday and I have been fully immersed in the process of post-production (editing) since then. As much as I love filming with everyone and the incredible team spirit of that, editing is really my overall favorite part of the process. It allows me to really fully see all the amazing work that the students have done, and take this in, in a way that you cannot fully do when you are in the time-crunch of filming during class. Sometimes you wish to cut right into the action to move the pace along, and other times you want to luxuriate a bit in order to immerse the audience in the story, the world, or even just a particularly strong performance. The other aspect of editing that to me is the most fun and really just captures the “joy of cinema” in its purest form is cutting to music.”

Mr. Rocca did reveal the inspiration behind this year’s play as well as the challenges that followed, “For Shakespeare Festival this year, it is set in 1929 in Hollywood, so a lot of the creative challenge was finding the perfect songs to encapsulate this very particular time and place. The route I went was ultimately utilizing a lot of covers of more contemporary pop songs, but done in the style of 1920s jazz. I feel that creates a sort of “alternate reality” and also will engage viewers with songs that they are familiar with. Of course, it is me so naturally there will also be opera, and scores from other films reused in a new context.”

The drama department, from everyone who has a part in the play to everyone working behind the scenes giving critiques and improving the show, is determined to provide the students of Preuss with a spectacular, and hopefully the last, online theatre experience.