WOOD RIVER JCT. — Sitting in the library listening to performances of William Shakespeare has become a popular pastime over the five years the Chariho Shakespeare competition has taken place. Students, teachers and parents gathered on Jan. 10 to hear six students perform monologues and sonnets from Shakespeare's plays.

“It’s just so heartening to see kids interpret Shakespeare,” Chariho Principal Craig MacKenzie said. “I think the challenges of the syntax are so great and to add the expression and intonation and gesture in ways that bring the words to life is really satisfying."

Sandra Laub, Chariho English teacher and Shakespeare Club adviser, introduced the competitors.

“This is an opportunity for these special students to practice one of the most important skills that I think they’ll take with them through life,” she said. “They are putting their critical-thinking minds together with their brave hearts and their able bodies to express what some people believe are the most powerful ideas in the world, because they go the gamut. They go the gamut of emotions and the gamut of thoughtful ideas as well.”

Participants this year were seniors Elizabeth Coppes and Avery Moody, juniors Jasmine Lerner, Dalton Stone  and Anna Golas, and freshman Christian Sullivan. Rehearsals began in October, with each student choosing a monologue and a sonnet to perform.

The judges were teachers Johannah LaFountain, Rebecca Burns and Aimee Blanchette, librarian Cynthia Skelton, humanities specialist Dana Hall, and Hopkinton Town Council member Barbara Capalbo.

“They’re going to introduce themselves by name to you and then they will launch into their monologue,” Laub told the judges. “Then we’ll give you guys plenty of time to score them, and you have the rubrics in front of you.”

Avery Moody was named the winner for his performance of  the porter monologue from "Macbeth" and Sonnet 138 ("When my love swears that she is made of truth, I do believe her, though I know she lies"). 

Moody said he chose "Macbeth" because he was in the play.

“Over the summer, I performed up in Pawtucket with the Gamm Theatre doing 'Macbeth' and then in October, I did 'Macbeth' with the Flock Theatre, so I’ve seen two different variations of the porter monologue, both very different from each other,” he said. “I was very interested by it because it’s such a unique monologue, which I didn’t really understand at first, so I did some more research on it, understanding the contrast between the Gatekeeper and then being Satan himself, and I thought that was very interesting and I wanted to do my own interpretation of it.”

Moody has been in numerous Chariho productions and intends to pursue an acting career.

“Next year I will be acting. That is the plan,” he said. “It will either be at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City, which I’ve already been accepted to, and I have auditions in March for Trinity College, in Dublin, Ireland. If I get into Trinity, I’ll definitely be going there.”

Christian Sullivan was performing in the Shakespeare competition for the first time and came away with the third runner-up prize.

“This is definitely new,” he said. “It’s exciting. It’s exhilarating and there’s nothing like it. I’ve never performed in such a quiet, concentrated atmosphere and it really helped me gather my thoughts and channel my performance. I hadn’t had any experiences with Shakespeare until I joined this club, but I enjoy it so much.”

Christian’s father, Bob, was in the audience.

“I thought it was fantastic,” he said. “I thought, from all the drama he’s done in the past, he did a fantastic job and he remembered all his lines … He probably got a little of that drama from me. We’re very animated at home."

Moody received a $100 prize and will represent Chariho at the state competition in February. The first runner-up, Jasmine Lerner, received $75, the second runner-runner-up, Dalton Stone, received $50, and Sullivan received $25.

Laub said this year’s actors had been a pleasure to work with.

“Very talented to begin with, but what I found is that they are so open to direct and open to taking constructive criticism,” she said. “They already begin at a very high level and then when I come in and I coach and I go into the details and we dive deep, which only certain kids are able to do, they give 110 percent. They were very special this year.”

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