Fall Harlequin: The Merchant of Venice

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Fall Harlequin: The Merchant of Venice

The cast worked hard in preparation for their amazing production.

The cast worked hard in preparation for their amazing production.

The cast worked hard in preparation for their amazing production.

The cast worked hard in preparation for their amazing production.

Kaitlyn Weifenbach, Reporter

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The Eaglecrest theater program has performed many shows, and they never fail to keep the Raptor community thoroughly entertained. This year, the Harlequin Players performed The Merchant of Venice: November 29, 30, and December 1. As a demonstration of their hard-work and talent, these Eaglecrest students put on a show that reflected the true atmosphere of a Shakespearean play.

In this harlequin style performance, participation from the audience was encouraged and tastefully incorporated in scenes throughout the show. The cast’s ability to anticipate the audience’s reaction in a comical way made their performance even more enjoyable. With such a deep, powerful play, the entire cast showed great talent in their abilities to affect the audience’s every emotion.

As students in the advanced theater class, they have spent countless hours of hard-work both in and out of the classroom. Caelan Echeverio, an actress in the play, says, “We’ve been working on this show since the first day of school. We started out by reading and watching the show. Later we auditioned and after being casted, we worked on it everyday in class.”

They have spent time working in class, but also spent time outside of school to create this amazing production. Erin Cozart, the actress playing the role of Bassanio, gives her insight into the immense work that went into this show, “ We have been working on this show everyday in class since the first day of school and show week we had rehearsal until 9 every night.”

These students spent an extensive amount of time putting this production together, and their hard should be noted. Playing the part of Antonio, Armando Arteaga acknowledges the time taken for this show as well, “We have been working on this show since September, so overall about two months now.” Two long months of not only working on the show, but also keeping up with their everyday schoolwork as well.

The overall storyline of The Merchant of Venice is about Antonio, a Venetian merchant, and his friend Bassanio. The story begins with Bassanio asking Antonio for a loan in order to court Portia, a wealthy heiress who lives in the city of Belmont. Antonio-unable to make the loan himself due to investments in trade ships-suggests that Bassanio go to Shylock, a jewish moneylender, and name Antonio as the money’s guarantor. Lots of other characters take part in the twists and turns throughout the play, but the main points take place with Antonio’s struggle in gaining the money and Shylock’s bias against Antonio from the beginning of the story.

With so many great scenes throughout the entire production, it is hard to determine one overall favorite from the show. One of the actresses in the show, Zoe Griffiths, shares her favorite scene in the play, “I really like the closing baptism scene when we see the consequences of the character’s actions and it’s extremely emotional. Shylock getting baptized – basically getting his identity stripped away – while his daughter sings. She’s realizing that she’s lost him forever and has made the wrong decision to run away with Lorenzo.”

Cozort shares her favorite scene as well, “My favorite scene is the ending scene between Portia and my character, Bassanio, because it begins as a very intense scene but quickly picks up to a very fun, light-hearted scene that you could see the audience relate to and it gave the show some light.”

With such a variety of tones throughout the show, the production really hit every emotion. From intense to comical, each scene was incredible and overall a great experience. Echeverio shares her favorite scene as well, “ My favorite scene was the court scene. Every show I would very slightly open the curtain so I could watch it from backstage. It was so emotional and intense and I loved it so much because it was so engaging.”

Due to the authentic Shakespearean atmosphere around the the production, respect from the audience played a key role in the show’s success.

At their matinee performance, these hardworking students were not shown the Raptor way from their fellow classmates. Cozort expands on this more by saying, “The audience for the night performances were respectful and engaged (speaking for the majority of them); however, the audience we had for the preview show was completely disrespectful and rude.” It is astounding that some of the students in the EHS community felt it necessary to trip actors, make rude gestures, and be disruptive during this production; the students who worked hard to make this show happen deserve better than that.

As an actress in the show, Echeverio shares her own opinion of the audience too, “On our Wednesday preview show the audience was terrible, but luckily the rest of the nights were amazing. They were so engaged and involved. In Shakespeare’s time it was normal for audience members to speak and interact with the actors. There was no fourth wall. The audience understood that and helped us do our job by putting in that energy. When the audience is laughing and reacting, we get more encouraged and overall do better!”

The respect from the audience changed drastically from their first performance to their last performance, and Arteaga agrees stating further, “Overall, the audience on the show nights were very respectful, and we had no problems with them.”

The harlequin production of  The Merchant of Venice was a huge success, and the theater students should be proud of their hard-work and talented production. Echeverio continues her appreciation for their production, “ I’m so proud of the show we put on. It was definitely the most difficult show I have ever put on before, but it was so worth it. We learned so much and gained so much respect for one another. It was such an amazing experience. If you haven’t come to a harlequin show before, I recommend you do.”  Looking forward to their future shows, these theater students will not disappoint.

The next show the theater department will be putting is the musical. This will be Once on This Island: February 28, March 1 and 2 at 6:30pm and March 2 at 1pm. Be sure to go these amazing shows and support these talented student as they present another exciting production. The cast list can be found on the Eaglecrest website and the theater department’s social media accounts.

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