Senior Salma Bezzat during the play.

Malden High’s Play Production performed the play As You Like It in the Jenkins Auditorium on December 14th, 15th, and 16th. This year, they took a different approach at the start of a new year with a Shakespearean play, as opposed to the usual musicals.

The play is made out to be humorous and romantic. It is set in Manhattan--The Florist of Arden in Brooklyn, where the two main characters, Rosalind and Orlando—played by seniors Jenna Vanella and Dexter Haag—fall in love when they first meet at a wrestling match. Rosalind assumes a male identity and leaves with characters Celia and Touchstone. As it turns out, Orlando flees to that same place without any knowledge that Rosalind would be there. Throughout the play, there are also disputes between brothers, Oliver—played by senior Nour Tafraoui—and Orlando.

There were many mixed feelings about the play at the beginning. Most cast members were “nervous” at first about doing this play because they were so used to doing musicals and didn’t feel “suited” to the idea of doing Shakespeare. However, members like Haag, expressed that although “many people were reluctant, because usually Shakespeare is a little difficult to adjust to, but as [they] read it,” they practiced it in a way that allowed the play to “be funny, since people think of Shakespeare as Romeo and Juliet—very dramatic and dower.”

The last time Play Pro performed Shakespeare was in 2016. The upperclassmen were not a part of the play since they were freshmen at the time, so the play this year was “really new for everyone.” Haag thinks that the cast realized “it [was not] as difficult as [they] thought it was going to be.”

Senior Michayla Moody agrees that “it [was not] fun at first because [she] had a hard time with the language” but it became “fun towards the end,” stating that it was a “good experience’ overall. Moody played the role as Celia and says that playing the role was fun as well. “[She is] really sarcastic and funny so it was something [she] could relate to,” Moody adds.

Moody felt that based on the fact that Shakespeare plays are “not really [her] thing,” she was “definitely proud of [herself] for getting through it.” She thinks she did “pretty well considering that the play was a really hard show.”

Tafraoui joined Play Pro this year and says that so far he “enjoys it very much.” Tafraoui was scared at first because this was his first performance and states that “the only problem was that it was Shakespeare and it was very hard to comprehend the story,” but other then that, he thought it was “fun.”

He thinks his performance changed throughout the three shows because “[he] built confidence” as the audience changed within the three days. On Thursday, the audience was “kind of stiff and there weren’t many laughs,” but on Friday “about half the school went” and had “a lot more cheers,” which made him more “energetic.” Tafraoui also found it difficult to act out his character because he finds himself to be “generally a nice guy” in real life, while his character Oliver was the complete opposite. It “took him a while” and even though “[he] did not think [he] did too great, everyone seemed to have enjoyed it so [he’s] happy.”

Sophomore Ronald Batista, was apart of the ensemble in his first ever performance. Batista expresses that “even though [he] didn’t really have a role this time, [he] still feels the family aspect of it.” Batista says that the cast and crew “all still come together and [they] don’t let you feel like you don’t belong.” He adds that even if you were part of the ensemble, they are “always having you do different things,” so “even if you don’t have a role in the play, you’re still there and you still feel part of the cast.” Batista continues to mention that even though the play was difficult, “[they’ve] come so far from a lot of people not really knowing exactly what [they’re] saying, to now being able to incorporate characters and being able to put humor into the play.”

Sophomore Sandra Rivadeneira, also performed for the first time in Play Pro as the ensemble. She expresses that the cast members “all invite you with open arms and [they’re] all so nice. [They’ll] also definitely give you advice when you need it so that you can learn.”

Rivadeneira’s thoughts on the play was that she found it really exciting because “ [they] got to do whatever [they] wanted with shakespeare and [they] got to choose the kind of jokes [they] wanted to make.” She also mentions that people often do not understand it and so they utilized “physical comedy, where it is similar to a movie and [they] do it so people get what is going on.”

Director, and english teacher, Sean Walsh, says that him and english teacher, Jennifer Clapp, “were looking for a challenging show. [They] have a lot of upperclassman coming back and they dealt with a show last year that had a lot of hard text and [they] were looking for what incorporated many different elements such as music and opportunities for designers to be creative and open up ideas, while also playing to the directors strengths, which in this case is shakespeare.”

Walsh emphasizes that the cast did “a phenomenal job with a very difficult piece. [He] thought they brought a lot of energy and life to the show. [They] definitely made it their own play in the end and [he is] proud of their performance.” He also says that working with Clapp, has brought “a lot of experience and knowledge. The kids really love working with her and [she is] a great collaborator.”

Play Production will be having two more plays this year, so for anyone interested in going to see them, there will be one in March and another in the spring so look out for fliers when the time comes. As for anyone interested in theatre, there is a green room club that is being re-introduced this year, which is an introduction to theatre.

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