Conant High School Senior and Lifelong Shakespeare Enthusiast
The Jaffrey-Rindge Annual Shakespeare Festival is celebrating its 25th year. Conant Senior Lily Germano is very much apart of this legacy participating in eleven consecutive festivals. Lily exudes an enthusiasm for Shakespeare which is contagious. In second grade Lily joined the festival at the encouragement of her older brothers. In the third grade her entire class participated. By late elementary Lily found such delight in Shakespeare’s plays that she found opportunities to participate in after-school Shakespeare clubs.
Students participate in the festival from second through twelfth grade. Lily describes the personal growth and development of students through the years. ”In the early years you are just kind of repeating lines as best you can. As you go up in grade levels you start to understand what Shakespeare is saying and you start to have fun with it.” She loves to watch the growth of the young students who can barely be heard all the way through to the the seniors who are performing for the last time. Lily also enjoys the between skit performances by the Mistress of Revels.
Perhaps it is not surprising that literature that has remained relevant for hundreds of years is still impactful to young people. Lily describes her love of Shakespeare, “I enjoy the poetic nature of Shakespeare and how he included historical events in his work.” Ms. Liebman, Lily’s AP English Teacher, discussed how much fun Shakespeare can be when students realize the storylines are similar to their own experiences. The love, jealousy and revenge, common in Shakespeare's plays, are relevant emotions which connect with students.
Lily is drawn to acting for the peripheral nature of playing someone else and for the social camaraderie.
By acting you are not yourself. I hate doing class presentations in front of people because I am myself. But when you are acting you are not yourself. You are playing someone someone bigger and you are a part of something bigger. The whole cast and crew become a family and I have made a lot of friends through Drama and Shakespeare.
The past eleven festivals have been filled with memorable moments. Lily recalls fondly her fifth grade performance of Cymbeline. Lily played Imogen, a female character, who dressed as a man so that she could freely travel the world. Later in the play Imogen battled against her own father and revealed her true identity. “It was really fun to try to pretend to be a guy while still also being a girl pretending to be a guy.”
Lily describes the legacy she hopes the festival will bring to the students coming after her.
I hope that they realize what kind of impact Shakspeare has on literature. Maya Angelou read a lot of Shakespeare and that impacted her poetry. I hope that they have fun performing and trying on costumes and laughing at the jokes that are in a plays.
This year’s festival will be held at the Jaffrey Meeting House on Friday, May 19th. Lily is excited for her final festival because her class is performing Julius Caesar with a “sassy twist.” Ms. Liebman’s AP English students are self-directing and producing the skit. While Lily does not have post-graduate plans to formally study Shakespeare, she will remain a lifelong Shakespeare enthusiast and continue to act in theater troupes.