Shakespeare Players seek to change campus culture

4 min read

ERIN GANNON ’19
A&E EDITOR
 
Raekwon Wheeler ’18 has always had a passion for Shakespeare. He spent his freshman year searching for that same passion across Trinity’s campus—to no avail—and in the spring of 2015, took the initiative and began Sound and Fury: Trinity College’s Shakespeare Players. “I can’t sing, so I didn’t do musicals, and I could never really audition for the fall productions at AAC because I just didn’t have time,” said Wheeler. “So, I started my own club.”
Sound and Fury is a small club (looking to expand) that seeks to celebrate the life and works of William Shakespeare through creative means. “We try to modernize Shakespeare,” said Wheeler. “It isn’t something a lot of people can relate to, and many find it really difficult—that’s why we hope to make it easier.”
This past October, the club put on an event at Vernon Social called “Macbethoween.” Making use of cheap makeup, fake blood, and props from Walmart, the group, then consisting of just five members, made light of their small budget and was able to connect with the audience on a very personal level—all while sticking to the original Shakespearean text. “We stay true to the text but make it easily understood by the way we perform it,” Wheeler said. The group also has a YouTube channel (Sound & Fury: Trinity College’s Shakespeare Players), on which they post parodies of popular songs rewritten to give Shakespearean plot synopses and character analyses. They hope that the videos will eventually be used in local classrooms to get students interested in Shakespeare.
In addition to their performances, Sound and Fury took a trip to New York City last semester, where they saw the Broadway production of King Charles III, a show inspired by the work of Shakespeare. While there, they also participated in a Shakespeare acting workshop, in preparation for their main event of the spring semester, Shakespeare on the Quad.
Shakespeare on the Quad will be a festival of Shakespeare, held on the main quad, that focuses on sonnets, short scenes, and then a main stage production. “We were originally going to perform As You Like It, but because of time restrictions, we realistically couldn’t put on a full show,” said Wheeler. “We’re going to bring in an outside professional theater company to perform a Shakespearean work, but our club will still be performing smaller scenes leading up to the main stage event.” The club does not yet know which production will be performed for the main stage event, but they look forward to announcing it.
Scheduled for Friday, April 22, the event is free and open to the public. “We’re actually trying to build partnerships with local Hartford schools,” said Wheeler. “Our audiences are students and faculty at Trinity, as well as the local Hartford community, so we’re encouraging everyone to come to the event.” In addition to the performances, the club intends to set up interactive stations consisting of Shakespeare-related activities, such as learning how to write with a quill and ink, and professor-led discussions.
The discussions around Shakespeare will mainly cover why the works are still relevant. “Shakespeare touches on so many different areas,” said Wheeler. “You can look at it through a philosophy lens, a literature lens, or an acting and theater lens, so it’s really multi-faceted in that way.”
Sound and Fury is trying to collaborate with other student groups on campus. “There aren’t many art-based groups on campus,” Wheeler noted. “You’ll see productions in Austin Arts, but that’s about it. There aren’t really any student-led theater productions that go on unless by a senior thesis student in the Theater and Dance department. We’re really trying to change the arts culture, so we’re encouraging everyone to come and participate.”
The group is always seeking new members, and their weekly meetings are open to anyone who wishes to attend. They meet on Fridays from 5:00 PM to 6:00 PM in LSC 138-9. “Even if they can’t take on a full role as an acting member, there are still other ways to get involved in leadership roles that don’t involve performing,” said Wheeler.
Wheeler describes the club as being “really made up of a group of people who genuinely have an interest in Shakespeare, and have a desire to change the overall atmosphere of Trinity’s campus by adding more arts.” Make sure to come out and support Sound and Fury at the Shakespeare on the Quad event in April. Any more questions can happily be answered by Wheeler at his email Raekwon.wheeler@trincoll.edu

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