It’s time for Belmont Secondary’s spring theatre production.
This year, the school’s Theatre on the Edge and its cast of 15 actors and many more crew members is presenting Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are Dead.
The 1966 play by Tom Stoppard parodies Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” with a surreal, tragic-comic slant.
“It kind of sends Shakespeare up a little bit: it is very playful with Shakespeare in a very fun and intelligent way,” director Sean Cowie said. “It’s modernism, postmodernism and Elizabethan drama having a full-on collision.”
The play follows Hamlet’s childhood friends Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, two minor characters in the events of the eponymous classic play. Familiar characters come and go, and are seen from a new perspective as they appear in a whole new plot.
The audience can better appreciate the play by grasping some key pieces of Hamlet, Cowie said. That’s why the actor playing the titular hero will come out and offer a primer “very quickly, in a fun way,” he said. Middle school kids may be able to understand and enjoy it, he added.
Bhreagh Juurlink, 17, who plays Rosencrantz said she found it “really interesting” to take a story that many people know and “turning it inside out and moving it a little to the left.” Juurlink, who said she also loves stage management, participates in mock trial and Model UN clubs and leads an after-school improv program, which is in its first year.
Seeing crews work behind the scenes, the support from the theatre department and peers like Brae Lynne, a “powerhouse” in her first year, has been inspiring, she added.
Lynne, 14, who plays Ophelia, said she wanted to act from a young age, but it wasn’t something she pursued until this year. “I wanted to step outside of my comfort zone and really, like, try something bigger,” she said. Lynne also does hip hop dancing outside of school and is in Belmont’s leadership group, said she looks up to Juurlink for “always” being on task.
“She’s just really into getting everything done but making sure everyone has fun,” she said.
Hamlet’s advisor and Ophelia’s father Polonius is played by Tahj Raju, 17, who said comedy actor Jack Black is the reason he wanted to start acting. “He’s very funny,” said Raju. Like his hero, Raju also makes videos for YouTube.
Ben Armstrong, 17, said he decided on playing Claudius because it was interesting and new. “I thought it’d be a very fun experience to be part of something that is serious but also comedy at the same time.” He also starred in the last challenging play the Theatre put out: Tennessee Williams’s Pulitzer Prize-winning, A Streetcar Named Desire.
Armstrong hurt his knee after playing rugby for a year and was sidelined from playing sports, including basketball. He keeps coming back to theatre, he said, because of the people.
“Acting has been such a big part of my life now… I just really wanna stick with it,” he added.
The show runs from May 22-24 starting at 7 p.m. in the Belmont Theatre. On May 25, brunch will be available at 12 p.m. for $25 at the school, catered by the House of Boateng Cafe, with the matinee beginning at 2 p.m.
Tickets can be bought through the SD 62 website and in the school’s front office.