Two Be, Or Not Two Be?

Senior duo acts one last time in UPrep’s virtual play


Bergstrom and Adams perform The Shrew Must Go On from As She Likes It on Zoom in the dressing rooms at school. The scene is between Kate from Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew and an actress playing her in a modern rendition of the play.

Seniors Allie Adams and Helen Bergstrom have been performing together for 4 years. But they’ve never been the only two students in Play Production. Until this year.
The play is titled, As She Likes It, and it’s about Shakespeare’s female characters. In the show, women from different Shakespeare plays are given bigger roles, put in new environments and given the opportunity to interact with each other.
Theater teacher and the show’s director Paul Fleming believes this play brings up a good discussion about the social aspect of theater.
“I want [the audience] to know that this [play] is a study in how women are used in the theater historically and what their position was in the world and a comparison to what it is today,” Fleming said. “Has it changed that much?”
Adams agrees with Fleming about the importance of this conversation about the widely discussed topic of femininity in Shakespeare, but recognizes that it comes with controversy.
“I think by and large the takes presented in this anthology are reflective of the demographic of the playwrights,” Adams said. “I disagree with a lot of them.”
Specifically, Adams assumes that the playwrights are older women because of their inexperience with “exploring youth” and representing younger women.
“In general, many–– arguably even all–– of the plays fall into a dichotomy of older woman and young woman, and none seem to have self-awareness of these archetypes they are adopting, making the plays, on a certain level, feel unintentional and ignorant,” Adams said.
She points to one scene called “The Nurse’s Rebellion.”
“I think the most egregious example is “The Nurse’s Rebellion,” based on Romeo & Juliet, which seemingly found it necessary to strip Juliet of her agency and intelligence to give the Nurse some,” Adams said.
The play was originally intended for a group of 4-16 actors, meaning that Fleming had to reach out to other UPrep students to be in their scenes. The show will be recorded on Zoom both in-person at school and from home, which brings new challenges.
“How you would act when your face is very close to a screen is completely different from how you would act to a theatre of 300 people,” Bergstrom said. “So trying to learn those really subtle acting nuances to make it still look good even though we haven’t been trained to act like this.”
Although Zoom brings challenges, the small cast allows for better feedback on scenes.
“It’s just a different experience, and it’s intense in a way, because I can be really focused on stuff with them,” Fleming said.
Although there are benefits to having a small class, the show is still online, which limits the experience. This is hard for Bergstrom as a senior who’s participated in UPrep’s in-person shows for so long.
[The experience has been] especially weird as a senior because this is my last time doing this scene with my favorite person who I’ve acted with for four years,” Bergstrom said.” “Even though we’re not done with this process, this scene with this person is over. And that’s it.”