Luke Goes Full Circle

“OMG I’m the lead of a Shakespeare play!”

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Luke, center, with his class from PS/IS 127 Aerospace Science Magnet School at the 2012 Festival

Hi, my name is Luke Domond and I am 20 years old. When I was 14 years old, in middle school, I starred in my very first play. Once my teacher, Ms. Nicolson, told us that we would be in a play at the end of the year for the Shakespeare Festival hosted by the Creative Art Team, I couldn’t control my excitement, so that day I ran home to let my family know about the good news. I always wanted to be a part of play and this was my opportunity to be in one. Not only was I able to finally be in one, I was the lead role! The play was “Much Ado About Nothing,” a comedy by William Shakespeare. The day finally came, after days of rehearsing, it was finally go time. Walking into the building where we was about to perform was terrifying. Seeing the stage, seeing all the seats that will soon be filled with people, it was just a rush. Once it was our turn to go on stage and perform all I could think of was, what if I forget my line or say the wrong thing, all these things was just clouding my head. So, I decide to close my eyes, take a deep breath, and just do what I was doing for the last few months, having fun. To my amazement, we were a hit, everyone loved our performance! We won the award for best comedy.

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Luke’s scene, “Love Can Make You Do Some Crazy Things”

Thinking this would be the last time I would ever hear about this program and this wonderful festival they host every year since, I would be going to high school the following year, I was devastated. I would never have another experience like that again. To my surprise, 6 years later I was giving the opportunity to intern for them through an internship program called CUNY Service Corps. This was my chance to finally get connected with the people who created this wonder festival and made my middle school experience the best experience I ever had. Interning for the Creative Art Team was a blast, I got to work with a lot of great people who taught me so much like Krista, Rachel, David and so many others. Then it finally happened, I got directly connected to the people behind the Shakespeare Festival! Not only did I get to meet the people who brought me so much happiness as a child, but got the chance to be a part of the magic and help out with the Festival this year!

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Luke, center, on Sixth Avenue, with CAT’s 2017-18 CUNY Service Corps crew, Service Corps alumni who are current CAT staffers, and three CAT administrators

Going from being in the Shakespeare Festival as a child to interning for the company as a young adult and being able to be a part of making this year’s festival as amazing for the kids this year as it was for me 6 years ago is really a blessing.

Lucille Lortel Theatre, here I come again! Can’t wait!

Luke-Domond

Luke Domond
CUNY Service Corps Member
Student, New York City College of Technology

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Play On

I am getting old, and my feet hurt.  This is a big problem because I like to run.  So I was very cranky the other day when I was taking off my Asics and putting on my swim cap.  As I hit the pool wall over and over again, the rhythm brought forth a sonnet I memorized as a child:

Since brass, nor stone, nor Earth, nor boundless sea
ShakespeareBut sad mortality o’ersways their power
How with this rage shall beauty hold a plea
Whose action is no stronger than a flower?
Oh, how shall summer’s honey breath hold out
Against the wrackful siege of batt’ring days
When rocks impregnable are not so stout,
Nor gates of steel so strong but time decays?
O fearful meditation! Where, alack,
Shall time’s best jewel from time’s chest lie hid?
Or what strong hand can hold his swift foot back?
Or who his spoil of beauty shall forbid?
O none, unless this miracle have might,
That in black ink my love may still shine bright.

Funny that Shakespeare inserted himself to drive home the fact of disintegration I was trying to work around. Maybe it’s because I just started working for Creative Arts Team this month, and my drama neurons are being reawakened. But why do I even have that poem in my memory banks in the first place?

My mom is a Shakespeare enthusiast, a cosmopolitan culture fiend, and generally a force to be reckoned with.  She carted all five of us to the Metropolitan Museum of Art on a regular basis; she stuck Post-Its in French on kitchen table items (sucrier, pomme, saler); and she instituted an annual tradition of celebrating Shakespeare’s birthday.  On April 23, we would at the least memorize sonnets or soliloquies; at the most we’d produce full-on performances with one sibling playing her newest viola piece, another baking a cake, and another staging a skit using the dining room louvered doors as a “curtain” and the young ones as “actors.”  (As the smallest, I usually got to do the sound effects.)

Having art and culture at the center of my childhood gave me a broad life perspective. Making various kinds of art made me feel able to do things.  And living with art constantly proves to me the value of seemingly ephemeral things – poetry, music, drama; emotions, morals, spirit.  In the pool, my inner resources bubbled up to comfort me with beauty and resonance, and to ask: If 450-year-old Will can swim with you, is it really so tragic that you can’t run today? Are there other things you thought were not possible that in fact are?

My feet might forsake me but I still have Will – as an integral part of me.  My mother gave me a tremendous gift that feeds me no matter how much I earn, or how long my to-do list is, or what else is happening in my life.

I am thrilled to be part of a team that brings these questions and gifts to thousands of children and adults each year.  And I’m looking forward to stocking up on new resources this work will undoubtedly bring to me, too.

Chris TokarChris-Tokar
Director of
Resource Development

Editor’s note: We are very happy to welcome Chris to the team – her love for the Bard will come in handy during our annual NYC Student Shakespeare Festival!

The title of this post comes from Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night: “If music be the food of love, play on!”

From the Front Lines of the Festival

I’ve been participating in the NYC Student Shakespeare Festival since 2004, and I look forward to this phenomenal program every year! My students feel the same way – they can’t wait until our school’s drama club is offered, so we can delve into Shakespeare’s plays and make them our own.

 

InfoTech 2014 NYCSSF Scene

Info Tech’s 2014 scene: Inner angels & demons get involved with a murderous plot, taken from a mixture of Julius Caesar, Macbeth & Othello.

Once our drama club is formed in January, we begin by engaging in theater activities – much of what I learned in the professional development days provided by CAT. Then we explore genres and themes that pique my students’ interests, ranging from murder mystery, teenage love, betrayal and parent-child relationships. My students are given opportunity to take ownership – from choosing the central question which will guide the Shakespearean piece, to adding their own interpretations of characters, to choosing costumes and stage directions. They also love having professional teaching artists from CAT come to our school and guide them in developing their theatrical skills and preparing them for the big showcase at an off-Broadway theater, the esteemed Lucille Lortel Theater.

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Info Tech’s 2013 scene: A Zombie Hamlet!

Of course, my analysis of their experience doesn’t do it justice. Here are two of my students’ reviews:

“I have loved acting ever since I was about the age of 7. Shakespeare’s stories are incredible; my favorite play was Romeo and Juliet due to the fact that I can imagine it. Acting just makes me feel free, especially if it’s from an author like Shakespeare. The Shakespeare Festival made me open my eyes more to it. I like meeting new people and learning how to get better at acting, so I joined the Festival and will join again next year.” -Gustavo

“I keep doing the Shakespeare Festival because it’s fun. It allows me to meet new people. I can go up on stage, perform what I’ve worked so hard on and be proud of it. It also boosts my confidence.” -Demetri

Heather Conn (center) at an NYCSSF professional development workshop in 2008.

Heather Conn (center) at an NYCSSF professional development workshop in 2008.

Heather Conn
Teacher
Information Technology High School
NYC Student Shakespeare Festival Participant since 2004

Note from CAT: Heather Conn is not an employee of CAT, but an annual participant in our NYC Student Shakespeare Festival – we are grateful for her (and her students’) kind words here as well as her fabulous Festival participation!