By Lauren Taylor, Amanda Ojeda, Colleen Meosky
It has been quite a while since the East Drama Club has taken to the stage, but nevertheless, they were ready and excited to dazzle us with a performance of Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”. East High School’s annual show opened to an eager audience on November 12th and 13th. This play goes into depth about the trials and triumphs of love, the natural order and disorder of reality, along with imagination through the dream-like comedy. Shakespeare highlights the uncontrollable nature of love, using love potions, a crucial aspect of the play’s course of events.
While some students hold more experience to being in the spotlight and others are just now starting, the Drama Club presented a skilled and expressive rendition of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, written by William Shakespeare, a popular writer, poet and creator of fine literature throughout the world and Williamsville East High. ( considering they perform one of his plays every year! ).
The play begins in Athens, the home of a wealthy nobleman by the name of Egeus and his daughter, Hermia (played by Mingi Hong and Eleen Waffner). Hermia’s father has set up an arranged marriage, but she chooses to ‘“defy his order to marry Demetrius”, says Mrs. LoVullo, the director of each year’s fall play, “instead, choosing to marry the man she really loves, Lysander.”’ Hermia and Lysander escape through the soon enchanted woods to elope. Meanwhile, Helena, a friend of the two lovers, decides to lure her love Demetrius into the woods to show him that Hermia really does love Lysander (because, unfortunately for Helena, Demetrius is in love with Hermia and not her).
All the while, Theseus, The Duke of Athens, is rejoicing in his marriage to Hippolyta and looking for performers to entertain the guests at his celebratory reception. Theseus is a representation of power and order throughout the play. When asked how he resonates with his character, fellow senior Elliet Strang said, “Oh boy where do I start. I am the king of Athens and I have to keep everything in order. On top of that I’m the student director and I have to keep everything in order. I think it’s a funny parallel.”
Oberon, king of the fairies, is the catalyst of the night’s events. He does this by concocting a plan involving love potions and his wife, Titania, which eventually goes awry. Senior Luke Lostumbo, who plays Oberon, describes his character as “a power hungry, manipulative, and wicked king. Fortunately, none of those aspects describe me, though it is a lot of fun to play an antagonist.” Oberon, alongside Puck, is often referred to as the deus ex machina of the plot, since their actions are the ones that launch the night of mischief within the forest. Both Lostumbo and Strang have been in four previous East productions, with this being their fifth.
A group of lower class workers all decide to rehearse a play to perform for Theseus in the same enchanted woods as Hermia and Lysander. Did you catch the part where the enchantment of the woods was mentioned? Well, it was enchanted by fairies. One of the workers, after the name of Nick Bottom, “the most eccentric actor of all”, Mrs. LoVullo said, gets caught up in a magical trick by the king of the fairies, Oberon. Oberon fights against his queen, Titania, and as the director says, “Mistaken identities ensue and love spells abound, making for one crazy yet magical evening!”
And magical it was. Although it is often difficult to interpret Shakespeare because of its old language and plays on language, the drama club put on an extremely expressive performance that perfectly conveyed each character’s emotions and made the events of the play clear. Additionally, little bits of humor added by the actors showed the audience just how much character and energy the drama club has. Shakespeare’s characters took on a contemporary life and energy onstage that made it easy for the audience to connect with their emotions and laugh at their missteps. It was obvious that the Drama Club put a lot of work into not only understanding the play themselves, but making sure that the audience understood and connected with it too.
The circumstances of last year put a temporary pause to performing on stage in front of the spotlight. New factors have been added to the spotlight system at East, and the whole cast decided to combine their masks with their Shakespearean costumes to the furthest extent. Mrs. LoVullo also exclaims, ”We are happy to take whatever precautions necessary in order to be safe.”, and that, “Everyone brings such positive energy and creativity that directing the play seems more like a creative adventure than a difficult task.”
In a quick reflection of how rehearsals have changed, the cast seemed to reach a consensus that although masks and social distancing are still in place during rehearsals, they are just as enjoyable and productive as before. Along with many seniors returning to the cast, new members are also being welcomed.
Joining the cast for their first production at East are sophomores Victoria Miner, Alli Hagen, and Elizabeth Buckingham. Both Miner and Hagen are delighted to have joined the vibrant and welcoming club and are so happy with the memories and friendships they have formed in the organization of this play.
Buckingham takes on the character of Tom Snout, a tinker who also plays a wall in the sub-play. “You see, it’s hard to resonate with a wall. But I want to say Snout is just really trying to have this random performance go well (Especially in front of royalty!) and I feel like that too. We both are just trying to follow along and make sure it all goes to plan”, said Buckingham. The play-within-the-play highlights the story of two doomed lovers, Pyramus and Thisbe. These two lovers were separated by a wall (played by Tom Snout) and were only able to communicate through a crack in the wall. The story hints at the unbreakable bond of love, which can surpass the largest barriers, including death. Pyramus and Thisbe is one of Shakespeare’s many references to Ovid’s Metamorphoses.
Juli Mora (senior), plays Peaseblossom, one of Titania’s fairies. She tends to Titania’s needs which includes taking care of the transformed Bottom, “Just like Peaseblossom, I am very much a caretaker of my friends and family,” said Mora. The fairies also represent Shakespeare’s commentary on the hierarchal society of his time. We have three main groups represented, the fairies (supernatural), the “mechanicals” (working-class), and the nobility. At his time, co-mingling between the classes was strictly unheard of. Therefore, he centers this around a time of public festivity in order to make the interclass interactions less shocking to the audience.
Along with experiencing the captivating talent of the actresses and actors up on the spotlight filled platform, East High School plays always have a source of relatability because Shakespeare wrote about challenging situations of the human experience.
Mrs. LoVullo says, “…every student deserves their moment in the spotlight…”, and that could not be more true for students like Eleen Waffner, Mingi Hong, Tanner Lesniowski, Cade Williams, Elliet Strang, Kate Powell, Nikita Suharu, Cian Colgan, Luke Lostumbo, Margaret Camann, and other mesmerizingly gifted actors and actresses, as well as the rest of the team that was involved in the production, direction and the help to make this possible. Senior Maggie Camann was thrilled for this year’s opportunity. With her grandmother, Camann designed and produced beautiful masks for each performer, specific to their character.
The drama club’s dedication and perseverance was obvious to all in attendance this past weekend, with Mrs. LoVullo receiving a standing ovation from some very enthusiastic AP Literature students. The East community now looks forward to the musical coming in the spring!