MHS Theatre Battles with Shakespeare


Sheridan McGuire

Mundelein Theatre students present their entry in the Battle of the Bard competition.

Joselle Escobar, Staff Reporter

For the first time this year, the Mundelein Theatre program participated in Chicago Shakespeare’s poetry slam contest, Battle of the Bard. Jonathan Meier, director of the theater program, and Mark Landyt, English teacher, selected eight students to participate in this contest. The group represented MHS in the preliminaries at Kenwood Academy and was one out of two teams to move onto the Nov. 14 finals that took place in the Chicago Shakespeare Theater on Navy Pier.

The performance consisted of two rounds: the first round required the students to perform a scene from a Shakespeare play. The second round had them create and perform a mashup, a combination of different Shakespeare lines to make a scene. The students in the group were mostly the ones who developed the mashup script by working together to compile different ideas and interpret different lines of Shakespeare.

Jasmine Cuasay, senior, enjoyed the mashup process.

“We do a lot of brainstorming because this is really a team effort between the members and the two teacher sponsors. The mashup was all created by two students, [Juniors] Kayla Raye and Dan Haller. They basically made our script for the mashup, and it was really good,” said Cuasay. “I don’t think we would have placed in the finals without them.”

Meier explained how the program allowed students to focus more on sharing different interpretations of Shakespeare and enjoying them rather than the actual competition portion. The competition aspect, Meier believed, was very downplayed.

“Watching the kids catch fire for Shakespeare, and owning it,” he said was the best part of the experience.

While competing at Kenwood Academy on Nov. 9, Meier described the diverse experience to be beneficial for the students.

“I thought it would be more fun to see a different part of the world for our students and for us,” said Meier. “There were big schools, small schools, Hispanic schools, black schools, white schools, mixed schools. It was a really interesting cross section of humanity all supporting each other; it’s a very positive experience.”

Cuasay very much felt the excitement of the experience.

“I didn’t know we would place. When they were announcing the winners, I was very excited, but also it was nice to see the other groups compete and how they interpreted the mashup in the scene because everyone looked at it differently, and some teams I was very impressed with to be honest,” said Cuasay. “They were very creative.”

Along with the competition experience, Meier described the struggles the students had getting comfortable with the language of Shakespeare. Although it was difficult for the students to get used to, Meier said he appreciated the intensity and power the students still had in their performance.  Meier also said he enjoyed watching the students gain a worthwhile experience and that he hopes to have the students continue participating.

Cuasay said, “On a personal level, I thought it was a good experience because I was able to make acting choices I’ve never done because the circumstances were so unique.”