The Student News Site of Harvard-Westlake School

The Harvard-Westlake Chronicle

The Student News Site of Harvard-Westlake School

The Harvard-Westlake Chronicle

The Student News Site of Harvard-Westlake School

The Harvard-Westlake Chronicle

Fall play changed in light of recent tragedies

The Harvard-Westlake Theatre Company will be producing “Much Ado About Nothing” this fall, pivoting from its previous decision to produce “Everybody.” After announcing the change in an email Aug. 4, Performing Arts Teacher and Director Sabrina Washburn said the adjustment is a more appropriate choice given the recurring themes of death in “Everybody” and following recent tragedies in the community on campus.

“At the end of July, I sat down to dig deeply into ‘Everybody,’ and as I thought about how I wanted our audiences to put themselves in the character’s shoes, doubt started to creep in, ” Washburn said. “With Trey’s [Brown] passing being so recent, it felt too soon to open a specific wound again for the whole community. Even though we were planning to produce this play with supplemental education and structures around it, it started to feel like it was not the right time to go deeper in this area, especially because the school was developing additional resources to do so with counselors and specialists.”

Clara Conrad ’25, who works in costume design, said she agreed with Washburn’s decision because she believed a more lighthearted theme would be more appropriate for the current school climate.

“I think that the decision to change the play was very wise of Ms. Washburn,” Conrad said. “Though it is important for the Harvard-Westlake community to discuss death and grief, theater has always been a place of joy for so many people at [the school].”

Clara Berg ’25 said though she was excited about “Everybody,” she looks forward to having the opportunity to perform in a popular Shakespeare play.

“I knew ‘Everybody’ would be a new, interesting play,” Berg said. “However, when I got the email [that] it was being changed, I was just as happy. I love Shakespeare, and I know it’s popular with students.I think it was a wise decision to change it, and I understand the reasoning in light of the recent tragedies. Though they are both excellent plays, ‘Much Ado [About Nothing]’ is more fitting for the present. ”

Nathaniel Palmer ’23,who is planning on auditioning for the play, said he appreciates the shift to a less serious piece given the previous productions the school has put on.

“I feel like it was a good choice [based on] the events last year,” Palmer said. “Aside from that, though, it’s become somewhat of an inside joke [amongst] the cast and crew that Harvard-Westlake only puts on dark plays, so it’s good that there [will be] somewhat of a departure from that tradition.”

Washburn said she hopes students and teachers will find the play enjoyable .

“I hope this production will help generate some excitement around Shakespeare and dispel some of the fear and apprehension students sometimes have around the language,” Washburn said. “Shakespeare’s works are hugely important to the English language and the evolution of literature, and it would be a shame for modern students to shy away from them. I want to go a step further and show that Shakespeare isn’t just literature. It’s active, it’s meant to be performed and heard.”

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