Shakespeare's Festival captivates students

·2 min read

Nov. 17—This past week, audiences of children from different schools around the Permian Basin have been entertained by the cast members of the Texas Shakespeare Festival Roadshow at Odessa College's Globe Theatre.

The shows are a part of the annual Odessa Shakespeare Festival, which made its return to the stage this year after last year's COVID hiatus.

"This is really amazing to return to in-person performances," Executive Director of Odessa Arts Randy Ham said. "We're really excited about it. The Shakespeare Festival is one of my favorite things that Odessa Arts does every year. This year, we have 1,200 students from across West Texas, all coming here to see live performances of professional Shakespeare plays in our actual Globe Theatre. You can't do that anywhere else."

All week, there have been two shows performed each day with "Twelfth Night" and "As You Like It".

In addition, there will be two public performances with "Twelfth Night" scheduled to be performed 7 p.m. Friday and "As You Like It" at 7 p.m. Saturday.

On Wednesday morning, students from the UTPB Stem Academy and Ignite Homeschool Co-op were in attendance for the performance of "As You Like It".

"Everybody reads Shakespeare as part of school but to actually see it performed, you're seeing things you wouldn't see on paper," Ham said. "Body language, staging, costumes and inflection, the diction and the language, it truly brings the story to life and makes it so much easier for the students to comprehend. For many of these students, it'll be their first time in a live theater."

Raven Jeanette, who played the character Celia in "As You Like It" and Viola in "Twelfth Street" has enjoyed performing in front of school children this week.

"It's just been a pure joy," Jeanette said. "It's been great seeing diverse audiences and being on the stage and storytelling and inspiring the youth and having an impact. I think that's such a blessing to be a part of."

Jeanette says that playing different characters from different shows has been an interesting challenge.

"At times, it can be confusing because some of the text is similar from both shows but it's amazing going from one character to the next and telling two different stories whether they are contrasting or not," Jeanette said. "It's great acting out Shakespeare's work and continuing to do that."