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International ShakeMeUp Shakespeare Contest

By Peggy Fowler
The Origins of the Students’ Films

St. Mary’s empowers students to explore the writing of William Shakespeare to find just the right mixture of modern and classical twists to execute their re-imagined vision of his literary work.

Students read and viewed A Midsummer Night’s Dream and studied several Shakespearean sonnets, in preparation for their final assessment in the Conflict unit. They then collaborated to reinvent Shakespeare’s writings in a modern television show format. By producing a series of short films featuring character interviews, commercials for a love potion, movie trailers for other Shakespearean plays, weather reports, news reports and other made-for-TV entertainment, students internalized Shakespeare’s work and made it their own.

The ShakeMeUp contest provides an audience for our student films, as well as a way to connect with schools across the world. An important component of the contest is the opportunity to give constructive feedback to our partner schools, and for our students to have the chance to reflect on their own work.

Our global partners this year included England, Uganda and the Czech Republic, which participated in reciprocal peer judging of our work during the first two rounds of the contest. Because students collaborate online, they’re able to view and share films across the world.
New Categories Lead to New Opportunities

This year’s contest featured new categories, allowing students to expand the number and types of films submitted. Participants from around the world presented hundreds of entries, and students themselves selected 60 films to proceed to the second round of judging.

Using work created for their IB unit, Year 3 students chose eight entries to submit to our partner school, The Canadian International School in Prague, Czech Republic, for the “Shakespeare for All Time” and “Shakespeare the Playwright” Junior High categories.
And the Winners Are …

Two films produced by St. Mary’s students continued on into the third and final round this year. In the final round, a panel of professional judges (including internationally respected actors, directors and producers) chose the top four finalists for each category.

The film “Weather Report,” created by St. Mary’s students Kate Flanagan and Henry Lew, was chosen as the first-place film in the “Shakespeare for All Time” Junior High category. The script included humorous twists to appeal to the audience and featured green screen special effects and subtitles to further enhance the featured lines taken from the script of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

In a decidedly different work—a movie trailer—Carrington Holritz received first-place honors in the “Shakespeare the Playwright” Junior High category. Her trailer for a film called “The Scottish Trailer” portrayed a frightening glimpse into the key events of the play Macbeth. Carrington utilized effective costuming and lighting, creating ominous undertones and a compelling narrative that created interest and suspense, just as movie trailers do.

Although the contest rewarded individual successes, the entire experience provided all Year 3 students the opportunity to explore Shakespeare’s endless wit and craft. They demonstrated a variety of communication skills they’ve acquired across the Middle School curriculum. Incoming Year 3 students will take inspiration from the students honored in the past, and put their own mark on the contest in 2019.