It’s late afternoon on a Sunday, and you’re in a noodle shop devouring a big bowl of udon noodle soup while watching high school students in steam punk-esque eveningwear perform scenes from “Macbeth.”
On Sunday, Nov. 27 at Gomen-Kudasai, this worship of the Bard took place. The Beacon High School Drama and Theater Arts organization, Beacon Players, collaborated with local nonprofit arts organization, Arts Mid-Hudson, in a workshop of various soliloquies and sonnets. It was the second installment of a three part series, “Celebrating Shakespeare” at Gomen-Kudasai. The events being: Bard at the Bar (Nov. 20), Beacon Macbeth (Nov. 27) and King Lear (Dec. 3).
Each program is a reaction to Judy Sigunick’s Shakespeare inspired series, “Masks,” hanging on the back wall of the restaurant. Sigunick said she is influenced by the idea that Shakespearean characters encompass different characteristics in one being. The sparse wording used by Shakespeare also lends his invented people open to interpretation. Therefore, most of the masks are almost collages fusing half black and white oval shaped faces and devilish creatures with stripy horns.
“He combines all of the possibilities of life that could happen in one moment,” Sigunick said. “Lady Macbeth can be so many things wrapped up in one character and that is what inspired my work.”
According to Arts Mid-Hudson volunteer and co-coordinator of the program, Gully Stanford, “Celebrating Shakespeare” is an extension of the art organization’s fall 2015 “Shakespeare in the Parking Lot.” The Poughkeepsie based event featured a month of happenings around an exhibition of Sigunick’s previous larger-scale ceramic Shakespearean busts.
Stanford said that this past March, a 2016 version was discussed between Sigunick and Executive Director of Arts Mid-Hudson Linda Marston-Reid. Sigunick had the idea of displaying her masks at Gomen-Kudasai. From there Stanford invited Director of the Beacon Players Anthony Scarrone and his troupe after hearing that the group held a production of “Macbeth” this past October.
“Shakespeare speaks to audiences of all ages and backgrounds,” Stanford said.
The evening began with introductions from Stanford, Sigunick and Scarrone. They all thanked each other and owner of Gomen-Kudasai Youko Yamamoto for generously donating her space. Then the students strutted in adorned in a lot of faux leather and black with faint heavy metal instrumental music playing in the background. Later it was revealed that high school senior Stefan Seward composed all of the music for their production of “Macbeth.”
Highlights of the event included the opening where sophomore Alexander Ullian read a sonnet from an iPad and as he read senior Michael Bonanno, who played Macbeth, acted it out, miming the words and facial expressions. Ullian at one point recited the famous Sonnet 18, “Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer’s Day?” to junior Leah Siegel.
In regards to why Scarrone selected various works of Shakespeare he said, “The goal was to show another side of Shakespeare, not in the format of full play but in the beautiful snippets that gave us a peak into the soul of William Shakespeare.”
Another memorable moment consisted of Siegel performing Lady Macbeth’s monologue after she’d gone crazy. As she said, “Here’s the smell of the blood still. All the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand,” in a scarlet gown barefoot, looking blankly into the crowd, a noticeable hush fell over the space.
Ullian, who acted as the Porter in “Macbeth” performed a short one-man play between himself and Macduff in the start of act two, scene three. In a funny Irish brogue he drunkenly flounced about and a family who happened to be in the restaurant for dinner laughed hysterically.
“It does my heart good to see young children laughing at Shakespeare,” Scarrone said.
Avid Shakespeare enthusiasts can check out the “Celebrating Shakespeare” final installment, “King Lear” this Saturday, Dec. 3 from 3-5 p.m. in Gomen-Kudasai.