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WHS Drama Club staging “I Hate Shakespeare!’

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To truly enjoy the works of Shakespeare, Hamlet must be heckeled at times.

That’s what students in Watertown High School’s Drama Club are discovering as they stage the two-act spoof “I Hate Shakespeare!” by Steph DeFerie this Friday and Saturday.

As demonstrated by a recent rehearsal, the romp gently pokes fun at Shakespeare while demonstrating his relevance to today’s world.

It begins with an “unhappy person” in the audience. As Hamlet ponders “To be, or not to be,” senior Alphonse V. Renzi, as the “unhappy person,” gives the character a hard time.

“Be quiet or I’ll throw my skull at you,” Hamlet, played by Chris Gurule, tells the unhappy person.

But the unhappy person persists.

“He’s soooo boring,” he says. “Admit it — the plays are too long and complicated, nobody understands the words and the jokes aren’t funny.”

After the unhappy person is invited to the stage, “I Hate Shakespeare” takes stranger turns. Zombies try to stage “Richard III.” Characters from “Othello” appear on the “Jerry Springer Show.” Shakespeare marries Mr. Drysdale’s secretary from “The Beverly Hillbillies.”

“Once Hamlet and my character have a bit of a debate, it basically turns into this whole spoof,” Alphonse said. “It takes everything that has to do with Shakespeare and makes fun of it. Not in a bad way, but in a kind of way so people can understand it.”

Club adviser and English teacher Leonard J. Planes said some of the play’s action will be filmed beforehand. That aspect will be shown on a drop-down screen.

Costumes in the show were donated by SUNY Oswego costume professor Kitty Macy and costume shop supervisor Judy McCabe. The drama club regularly attends the annual drama festival at SUNY Oswego, where Mr. Planes is an alumnus.

“We all went on a day trip and they loaned us the costumes,” Mr. Planes said. “They are beautiful.”

The play touches on nearly 10 Shakespeare plays, focusing on well-known lines.

“We take that, put it through a big machine and it comes out like a flip book,” said senior Nathaniel S. Haga, who plays Macbeth and Iago. It’s simple and fun.”

The show ends with Puck’s soliloquy from “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”: “If we shadows have offended. ... ”

“And somebody gets a pie in the face,” said Alphonse.

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The cast of “I Hate Shakespeare” presented by the Drama Club at Watertown High School: Chris Gurule as Hamlet, Alphonse Renzi as the unhappy person in the audience, Alyssa Heath as the cheerleader and witch, Peyton Caldwell as Gertrude, Jonathan Ehlinger as Claudius, the messenger and Bob, Matthew Bradley as Ophelia, Laertes and Shakespeare, Taylor McCown as traditional Juliet and Lady Macbeth, Britney Ruiz as modern Juliet and Brandon Bruso as the emcee.

Also, Raymond Mabee as Richard III, Macduff and Count Paris, Taylor Burrows as the narrator/director, Christalle Kao-Johnson as the British historian, Chris Seymour as Jerry Springer, Mikayla Jones as Desdemona, Abdul Kamara as Othello, Nathaniel Haga as Iago and Macbeth, Haidon Moss as Ted, Isabella Sofia as Sheila, Nic Price as Dick, Duncan and Burbage, Erika Rust as the cow, Jayden Feistamel as Banquo and Romeo, Taylor Sinclair as Miss Purdie and Jessica Shipley as Puck.


the details
WHAT: The Watertown High School Drama Club presents “I Hate Shakespeare,” by Steph DeFerie.
WHEN/WHERE: 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday in the auditorium at Watertown High School, 1335 Washington St.
COST: $5 for students and senior citizens and $7 for adults.
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