On Wednesday evening the College welcomed the ‘KL Shakespeare Players’ to perform ‘Shakespeare Demystified: The Merchant of Venice’ – a simplified, abridged version of the infamous, classic Shakespeare play, which would usually be nearly three hours long. What was so unique about this performance was not just the quality of acting, but how it was made accessible, relatable and understandable for the audience, without being ‘dumbed down’. The ‘KL Shakespeare Players’ hold the view that Shakespeare should be enjoyed by all, not just literary academics, and aspire to enthuse teens to enjoy Shakespeare.
Each scene was performed in Shakespearean English, while an interweaving narrative was spoken in contemporary English, to help explain to the audience how the scene was going to unfold, the undertones, and analysis of the expressions. For our students studying Shakespeare in English, it was hugely valuable to watch a live performance, and to see the words from the pages of the script come alive right in front of them. Because of the minimal set, props, lighting and costumes, the performers encouraged the pupils to use their imagination when watching the play.
At the end of the performance, the audience was invited to ask the actors questions. This provided an excellent opportunity for the pupils to speak to specialised ‘Shakespearean thespians’ about the themes, languages and dramatic expression of the play, which they will be able to take back to the classroom. The College passionately promotes cultural events, and it was an absolute privilege to have a first-class performance company visit the College.