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Parker’s Shakespeare Slam Team Advances to Finals

Parker’s team won their Shakespeare Slam bout over the weekend, qualifying five Upper School students for the Final Bout at the Chicago Shakespeare Theatre on Thursday, January 19.

Shakespeare Slam teams consist of two to eight students who prepare performance pieces from a shared text to present at one of three Regional Bouts.

This year’s text is Richard III, and competitions consist of two distinct parts. In the first part, teams stage a scene they’ve selected, cut, staged and rehearsed. Next, teams stage a “Dream Round,” a devised, “remixed” performance piece inspired by Richard III that explores a particular character, theme or story they want to tell in an original and creative way.

Parker sophomore Sejal Ahuja and juniors Davu Hemphill-Smith, Harry Lowitz, Dylan Maki and Pau Maset performed Act IV, Scene ii in the first round of the competition and mashed up Act I, Scene ii and Taylor Swift’s “The Man” in the Dream Round. The team will perform both scenes at the Final Bout, which will take place on the Courtyard Stage at Chicago Shakespeare Theater on January 19.

Reflecting upon her team’s recent accomplishment, Upper School English teacher Cory Zeller shared, “I am so proud of this team. None of them had competed before, and they really came together as a group to navigate this new experience. Their performances were absolutely incredible!”

The Chicago Shakespeare Slam was originally created as Battle of the Bard by Chicago Youth Shakespeare, an organization founded by Parker graduate Manon Guastafeste Spadaro ’83. About 10 teams competed on Parker’s stage for the first competition. One of the judges was Marilyn Halperin, director of education at Chicago Shakespeare Theater, who suggested CST join in, and by 2017, CST continued the program on its own with the name Shakespeare Slam. Now, according to the CST, “Chicago Shakespeare Slam is, more than anything, an ensemble program—building community, within a school’s team and among the many teams participating from across our entire region. Together, participants have the opportunity to dive deep into a shared text—and do so through an infinite number of lenses crafted out of students’ own imaginations.”
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Francis W. Parker School educates students to think and act with empathy, courage and clarity as responsible citizens and leaders in a diverse democratic society and global community.