Listen to many, speak to a few: Senior Class Performs Hamlet

Chris Branch ’20

Another holiday season has come and gone here at Berkshire, and the annual Holiday Shuffle that accompanies the short time in between Thanksgiving and Winter break too often blurs that activities in between. But one event always seems to shine through the seasonal fog. That event is Hamlet night.

Hamlet Night is a show that the sixth form presents each year with the help of their teachers in the wake of reading William Shakespeare’s timeless play Hamlet: Prince of Denmark. Each english class adopts a scene from the play as well as a theme from popular media or literature and performs it as a class in front of the form, their nervous teachers, and an array of curious faculty attendees. Students are tasked with picking a unique theme, altering the script to match it, and creating a set before Hamlet Night Arrives.

Some time after the performance, a winner is declared (along with several minor individual awards), and the winning class has the “privilege” of reperforming (or rather reforming) their piece in front of the entire school during an All School Meeting.

This year may have presented one of the most harrowing challenges in Hamlet night history for the sixth form class. A later-than-usual Thanksgiving that resulted in a later than usual break resulted in a time crunch that was somewhat unprecedented. Many classes only had mere days to collect costumes, allocate roles, alter scripts, and memorize lines;the most time any of the classes received was a meager 5 days.

Nevertheless, the class of 2020 rose to the occasion spectacularly and, with the aid of a few outside-class meetings, was able to put on a Hamlet Night that will surely go down in the books. Each theme was creative, the line execution was impressive (though at times precarious), and the enthusiasm was palpable.

Passing students not attending the show may have been startled by a roar of laughter exploded from the Great Room as Lynx Schiava (as a reindeer [as Hamlet]) or intrigued by gasps as Aimi Sekeguchi (As Luigi [as Hamlet]) let loose a barrage of makeshift fireballs on her adversary. The night was teeming with hilarious and intricate interpretations of the play through themes such as South Park, Keeping Up with the Kardashians, and even Dodgeball (the movie). After a phenomenal, hysterical, and at times harrowing night, the entire sixth form and Berkshire English Department as a whole was left entertained for weeks.

Soon after, the winner of the competition for best adaptation and performance was awarded to “The Real Housewives of New Denmark”, a title that explains itself. And to the victor go the spoils. The AP literature class responsible for the wonderful adaptation performed their iteration in front of the entire student body during an all school meeting, flawlessly concluding another year of Berkshire’s intimate introduction to Hamlet.

So what did we learn? This years Hamlet Night, despite adversity, was a fantastic showing of the class of 2020’s wit, dedication, and willingness to rise to any occasion. The comradery exhibited is truly a testament to the unit we have become as a form. Berkshire will always be a place where it is safe to learn and grow, and from this, we can extract the greatest versions of ourselves. Such are those that we exhibited during this year’s Hamlet Night. As an actor in this years production myself, the wacky, wild, and positively strange experience that Hamlet Night was and will continue to be brings to mind a certain quote from the play that will forever be perfectly applicable of this beloved tradition. “Though this be madness, yet there is method in’t.”