Local students display their talents with classic William Shakespeare play ‘As You Like It’

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Left to right: Moss Stratton (Orlando), Phoebe Stevens (Jacques), Aaliyah Nedd (extra), Katherine Vaughan (Duchess), Nathan Snow (Lord and William), Brandon Szymusiak (Lord), Sophia Gibson (Extra) and Claire Mitchell (Amiens).

A total of 27 cast members and 14 crew members, ranging from first-year students to seniors at Salem High School, worked in unison last Thursday, Friday and Saturday to successfully reenact one of William Shakespeare’s most celebrated plays.

Believed to be written by Shakespeare in 1599, “’As You Like It’ follows its heroine Rosalind as she flees persecution in her uncle’s court, accompanied by her cousin Celia to find safety and, eventually, love, in the Forest of Arden,” according to william-shakespeare.info.

Salem High Theatre Director Alex Schmitt used slightly different language to describe the play: “It teaches viewers to appreciate life and all of the wild and wonderful moments in it. As the duchess states within the play, ‘And this our life, exempt from public haunt, finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, sermons in stones and good in everything. I would not change it.’”

Roughly 500 people attended the three performances. Tickets for the 7 p.m. show, $5 for students and adults, were sold during the school’s lunch period and at various locations throughout the city.

Patrick Bateman, a Salem High junior, auditioned for the role of Silvius.

“We each performed a monologue for Ms. Schmitt, and afterward we had to improvise a new way of delivering it based on a character trait she gave us,” he said.

Salem High senior Garren Snow and his three siblings – Nathan, 15, Emily 15, and Isaac, eight-years-old – all were excited at the possibility of working together on a school project.

“I am so thankful that they all had this opportunity. Being a part of something that is bigger than any individual is a wonderful experience,” said their mother, Salem High Counselor Kristi Snow. “It meant so much, especially knowing that Garren is graduating in a few months, to see them all on stage at the same time. That may never happen again.”

During the intermission of the performances, Director Schmitt regularly gave her students words of encouragement.

“Some of them were visibly nervous before the first night. While there are amusing elements of this play such as chase scenes, cross-dressing, spontaneous kicks and slaps and punches, there are also sentimental moments that leave audiences smiling,” she said. “Also, from a director’s perspective, even after reading and seeing this play hundreds of times, I am still finding new discoveries within Shakespeare language.”

Trina Bateman was one of many proud parents in attendance rooting their child on.

“My son Patrick, like everyone else, did a phenomenal job with this play. The Old English language is hard to understand, but they made it seem like they’ve been talking it their whole life,” Bateman, Salem High School’s Attendance Secretary, said. “They worked many hours finessing their roles. Hats off to Ms. Schmitt and everyone involved. What an amazing play!”