Last week, Harrisburg Academy opened wide its doors to 18 young British actors and technicians, and we had a wonderful time. The Cambridge University American Stage Tour (CAST) brought boundless energy and smiles to so many in the days they were here. Founded 17 years ago by Dame Judy Dench, CAST is a major international theater tour which aims to bring Shakespeare to young people.
Wednesday, Sept. 13, was the highlight, with workshops throughout the school day and a performance that night. Lower School children ran, jumped, laughed, crawled, and stalked as they imitated fairies while shouting and acting out lines from “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Middle School students in Mrs. Haywood’s drama class had the chance to work with CAST in an intensive clowning workshop. Finally, the entire Upper School was given the chance to work with CAST, exploring Shakespeare’s text and the relationships in his plays.
After this full day, somehow (they must have been exhausted!) CAST put on one of the most high-energy stage productions I have ever seen when they performed “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” for our school community in our very own McCormick Auditorium. Not content to set this comedy in ancient Athens and a forest, as is usual, CAST envisioned the play happening in a contemporary dance club, summoning fairies on cell phones. By the last act, the audience was cheering and laughing on their way to giving CAST a well-deserved ovation.
They went home to their host families, and I would like to thank each of the families again here: the Baker/Petrusches, the Bartos, the Coles, the Haywoods, the Shovers, the Shumans, and the Witwers. If the students they hosted were as wonderful, thoughtful, polite, and charming as the two students I hosted, it was truly an enjoyable task.
This was the second visit CAST has made to Harrisburg Academy, and with the continued support and enthusiasm of our community, we hope to make this an annual adventure!
Learn more about Harrisburg Academy on our school website.