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Behold the Bard

May 3, 2018

 

MORGAN BERNARD

Managing Editor | mrb056@latech.edu

 

The day’s events included a parody puppet show of Shakespearean tragedy “King Lear.” – Photo by Autumn Manry

 

Louisiana Tech students got to experience medieval combatting, puppet shows, essay presentations and more during the Say My Name Shakespeare Festival.

 

The Department of Literature and Language and the Rho Gamma chapter of Sigma Tau Delta, the international English honor society, hosted the twelfth annual Shakespeare Festival on April 26 in the George T. Madison Hall Shakespeare Garden. The festival consisted of many events including poetry competitions, sonnet readings and performances by Tech’s theater department.

 

Emily Varisco, president of the Rho Gamma chapter of Sigma Tau Delta, said the festival was meant to celebrate the arts while also remembering Shakespeare through his works.

 

“The purpose of this day is to celebrate the life of one of the greatest English playwrights, if not the greatest, to ever live,” Varisco said. “His works altered both literature and drama in innumerable ways. But perhaps what’s most incredible about his works is the subjects are still relevant today after all these centuries. His life deserves celebration, and we usually hold the event on the last Wednesday of April since both his date of birth and death are in April.”

 

Varisco, a second year English graduate student, said she believes students were able to gain more from the event than just seeing theatrical performances.

 

“I hope attendees gain a greater appreciation for Shakespeare and his works since his works are often criticized as being difficult to understand,” she said. “Whether or not we realize it, he has influenced us all since he contributed so much to the English language. We celebrate to show that Shakespeare can be fun and entertaining as well as educational.”

 

Varisco said she was excited to see a large turnout at the festival, as a lot went into planning it.

 

“This year we were lucky enough to preview a scene from the theater department’s production of “King Lear,” which they are performing at Stone Theater all this week,” she said. “Also, sonnets were presented in various languages, along with readings of original, modernized sonnets. Amazing essays and presentations were given by faculty members. In addition to all of these great events, to celebrate the performance of “King Lear,” there was also a puppet show performance of a revision of the play entitled ‘Queen Lear.’”

 

Mackenzie Bell, a freshman biomedical engineering major, said attending the festival opened her eyes to opportunities on campus where she can enjoy the arts.

 

“I don’t get a lot of chances to go to things like this in the biomedical engineering curriculum,” Bell said. “When my friend mentioned she was coming to this Shakespeare event, I was actually really excited to come with her. I didn’t know much about Tech’s theater department and other organizations like this on campus, so it was interesting to learn a little bit about them.”

 

Bell said going to the festival has encouraged her to get back into her interests of theater and writing.

 

“I was in theater all four years of high school and loved performing,” she said. “I forgot how much fun it was until I saw these people performing today. You can tell this is their passion. Whether it’s poetry, stage fighting or performing with puppets, everyone was enjoying themselves and it showed through their performances.”

 

Eric Andrews, a junior history major, said this was his second year to attend the Shakespeare festival, and his favorite part was watching other Tech students perform works such as sonnets, essays and poems.

 

“I have always loved Shakespeare’s work so it’s a lot of fun to talk with other people about it and enjoy this unique atmosphere,” Andrews said. “Along with hearing some of his original stuff, you also get to hear other famous writers’ works, and even things from faculty and students. It’s a great opportunity for people who enjoy literature, writing, history — all of these things — to come together and talk about what we love.”

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