The Advanced Drama department performed their last play, “The Haunting of Will Shakespeare” when the clock struck seven on Friday, April 25, 2008. This play, written by Claudis Haas, gives a fictional twist to Shakespeare’s life and gives us the story behind his many writings.
It all began when three hooded figures emerged from behind drooping willow branches amidst a dark blue backdrop. Suddenly, a young man in glittering gold and crimson red Elizabethan robes burst into the clearing, with an exasperated expression on his face. He was pursued by a young maiden whose eyes implored for the subtlest signs of her love being returned. The man in the red was none other than a young William Shakespeare, who at this point in life aspired to become not the playwright we all know and love but a traveling actor instead.
The three figures, now identified as Hecate, Paddock, and Greymalkin, witches of the forest, decide to spice up their dreary days by “toying with the mortal” and steering him away from his desired course. The course that they have chosen for him is to lead the life of a writer, and hopefully publish the witches’ escapades for the world to read, and “free them from the woods”. To do so they needed to inspire Will, and so with a clap of their hands and a flash of lightning, several spirits were summoned to the grounds.
Pointing at each spirit, they assigned different roles for them to play. One by the name of Romeo was to fall in love with a fair maiden after dousing a love potion. Another was assigned the part of one called Bianca, a beautiful young woman who was not allowed to be courted until her dreadfully shrewish elder sister, Kate, was married. Sure enough, these spirits were, in a single moment, inventing the very stories that Shakespeare was destined to write down and be passed down and read for hundreds of years. The race to inspire Will had commenced.
On the other side of the forest, Will had successfully left his stalker behind. He then comes across a troupe of traveling actors, of which included his newfound love interest, an exiled noblewoman by the name of Rosalind, who was in search of her father. After their brief meeting, they have to go their separate ways and Rosalind, in hope of seeing him again, took off the golden chain from her neck and hung it around Will’s, and then disappeared into the darkness.
Many events unfurled from that point in time; the spirits who were supposed to be inspiring Will were getting the wrong end of the rope. Kate decided that force was the solution to the problem and tied up Will, forcing him to bear witness to the famous violent exchange between her and Petruchio. Hamlet emerges from out of nowhere at the most peculiar times and Will is forced to watch him have conversations with himself and the voices in his head. (“To be, or not to be?”) Will was, quite frankly, terrified, petrified, shocked, confused, and basically anything but inspired.
We returned to the witches, who were asleep when the last spirit arrived fashionably late. Greymalkin, the sleepy witch, wanted to get the job over with as quick as possible and so the spirit was assigned a most confusing role; that of Viola, a man playing a girl playing a man with a life’s mission to find a spirit called Olivia. And so, Viola began her search for Olivia.
The next few minutes were a flurry of spirits getting too into character as time passed by and developing character flaws and getting themselves into trouble as a result. Romeo drained the love potion upon the “fair maiden” he sees, which turned out to be not Juliet, but Bianca. A love spell was cast on Bottom, a windbag spirit, and the mortal with a terrible crush on Will ended up falling for him.
Various exchanges between Will and the troupe of actors were made after their reconciliation and Rosalind, posed as her male cousin, pried out the truth from Will; that he was desperately in love with Rosalind.
Dawn approached the stage and the spirits were getting tense, as their fate was to disappear by morning, yet they still had not accomplished anything. Will was more horrorstruck than motivated. And with one final attempt by all the spirits to get Will to write their stories, they dissipated into thin air, gone for eternity.
The group of actors found news of Rosalind’s father, and left Will to seek him. With one final embrace, Rosalind and Will parted ways.
Will, alone in the woods, finally has time to himself to mull over all that had happened. At last, he took up his frayed scroll and quill and decided put down the spirits’ tales in ink, for people to read in generations to come. He is the last to exit, leaving the stage in complete darkness.
This recap was written by Sophia Chang. It was published in the May 21, 2008 issue of the Temple City Voice.