Iolani Students Prepares to Honor the Bard
Lower-schoolers put in long hours in rehearsal to produce William Shakespeare's "A Midsummer's Night Dream," part of the Keables Fortnight. Mrs. Oda adapted this play from Lois Burdett's "A Midsummer's Night Dream for Kids."
BY SHERI UYEMURA AND MICHELLE SATO
For two weeks, the entire student body and faculty focused on the performances of professional actors from the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.
The unprecedented Keables Fortnight included both the lower school and upper school, with contributions from all the different subjects in a Shakespeare theme that ultimately focused on the actors.
"Dear Will" played with the idea that Shakespeare got his ideas from letters people sent him about their problems, asking for advice. The act included a 20-minute adaptation of Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night."
"The Great American Novel" included two adaptations of both "Catcher in the Rye" and "To Kill a Mockingbird."
A husband and wife duo, Kathleen Mulligan and David Studwell exhibited an all Shakespeare program called "How Do I Love Thee." They used a sonnet by Elizabeth Barrett Browning to weave Shakespeare's famous love scenes together.
The group performed "Win, Lose, or Draw," combining Shakespeare with other contemporary pieces of literature such as Doctor Seuss. The actors found the theme of power struggles appealing and tried to find literary works to perform to match their idea.
The last performance they put on was "The Noodle Doodle Box" for the lower-school students. Many of the same pieces from "Win, Lose, or Draw" were used. What the children found most memorable, according to Kathleen Mulligan, was the line, "Please water please," where David spit water into Kathleen's face.
"The plays that had pieces we've read in class really interested me. It was neat seeing what we've discussed performed on stage," said Mari Takamura ('01) after seeing the acts.
More than just these performances, the Keables weeks provided workshops for the students. "Our objective was to demystify Shakespeare a little bit and make the language more accessible to students by asking them to play with devices that Shakespeare used in his language," said Ms. Mulligan.
The workshops were a major portion of the Keable's festivities because students were able to learn from the actors about Shakespeare, drama, literature, and writing. The different workshops included "Improvising Shakespeare's Language"; "Images, Ideas, and Expressive Words"; "You Direct"; "Theater Sports"; and a discussion on Hamlet with the AP English students.
Junior Marissa Oyadomari attended a workshop on how to write poetry, where the class members closed their eyes and imagined something of. "It was really relaxing to close your eyes and imagine anything. It got me motivated to write poetry," said Oyadomari.
According to the actors, Iolani's tradition of studying Shakespeare created a good background for their work. They hoped to get the students more acquainted with Shakespeare through their performances, and to excite them towards his work. "Though Shakespeare lived 500 years ago, the themes in his plays are still relevant today," said Ms. Mulligan.
Another large part of the fortnight was the student performances, which included "A Midsummer Night's Dream," a choral scene from "The Tempest," and a ninth grade production of Romeo and Juliet. "This has made me interested in Shakespeare," said freshman Dale Matsumoto who played Juliet in the ninth grade performance.
The Keables Fortnight addressed not only English, but all the disciplines, in the timeline organized by Mr. David Masunaga. More than 800 students found facts relevant to their specific courses and their teachers submitted those facts to be compiled in the finished projectthat is now displayed in the Art Gallery.
Mr. Masunaga’s objective was to coordinate all the different curricular areas into the Keables Fortnight, so he asked each of the departments - history, math, science, English, and foreign language - to submit facts in their respective disciplines that could be incorporated in a timeline of things that happened during the lifetime of Shakespeare. "Although this is a really short time span in the history of the world, 1564-1616, it is just amazing to see the kinds of things that happened during this time period. We think of the last 50 years as being an active period for discoveries, but it was also that way in Shakespeare’s time," said Mr. Masunaga.
In order to accommodate any type of performance, the school set up the tent, which had more space than other facilities. The outside setting created the same ambiance as the theaters where Shakespeare was actually performed.
To add to the surroundings were the banners and butterflies. The banners were created by various courses for decoration. The butterflies were a kindergarten project based on a poem they read, "Fairies at the Bottom of my Garden." The poem and butterfly theme matched the lower-school performance of "A Midsummer Night’s Dream."
"The setting, the tent, and the pictures created a more festive setting than usual and set the Keables Week apart from other regular school days," said Junior Trina Orimoto.
Not limited to Upper School, the ninth-graders made story aprons, which they took to lower school to share with the students.
According to Dr. Peter Webb, Mr. Keables loved Shakespeare, and the Iolani community welcomed the idea to bring in the Oregon performers and educators. Dr. Webb said he "hoped the event would inspire people to try some acting themselves, and also to see how powerful and exciting drama can be; even to be just a part of the audience."
The idea to bring in these actors began last spring when a committee met to brainstorm ideas for the Keables Chair. Because of the recent release of the award-winning movie, "Shakespeare in Love," Ms. Lori Aki said she had thought it would be "cool to have actors" who specialized in Shakespeare’s works as the guests for the Keables fortnight.
The Keables Chair is an endowment funded entirely by donations, and not by the school’s budget. According to Mr. Proctor, when it was first founded, there was not money, but gradually there were enough funds for one person to come for one week. Now we are at a point where there are three guests staying for two weeks.
"Ultimately, by the time I leave Iolani school, I hope that there is a million dollars, because then we could afford to have a guest artist come for an entire semester to teach classes," said Mr. Proctor.
For the first time, the Keables Chair brought three actors for two weeks to the school. The extravaganza not only celebrated the new millennium, but also the 100th birthday of Harold Keables.
Return to contents to Feb. 22, 2000