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Sophomore Class to Present Three Plays by William B. Yeats
Posted 01/31/2013 09:19AM

At the Waldorf School of Garden City, it is a custom and tradition for the sophomore class to perform a play, entertaining parents and family, friends, students and the community. The class of 2015 will perform a collection of three plays, all by William B. Yeats: The Only Jealousy of Emer, The Words Upon a Window-Pane, and The Hour-Glass. These three plays will be performed on Thursday, January 31st at 7:30 pm, Friday, February 1st at 1:00 pm, and Saturday, February 2nd at 7:30 pm. All three performances will take place in the School Auditorium. Admission is free.

Mrs. Deirdre Burns Somers, the director of the plays as well as the high school’s English and drama teacher, said, "I have a great time working with this class, from the moment we started rehearsing all the way through till the end. The three plays are not the easiest to perform, one of them even requiring an accent, but the class makes it look so simple, with their excellent ability to perform and act."

William Butler Yeats (1865-1939) was born in Ireland, in the village of Sandymount, Dublin. From 1884 to 1886, he studied at the National Collage of Art and Design, in Dublin. As well as being a playwright, he was also a poet, dramatist, prose writer, and one of the most principal figures in 20th century literature. He also received the Noble Prize for literature in 1923. Yeats was quite the complex man, with his beliefs in the strange and the supernatural. His beliefs influenced some of his writings and plays. He had a very imaginative mind and was also fairly creative. He said, “People who lean on logic and philosophy, and rational, exposition end by starving the best part of the mind.”, and this creative quality can most certainly be seen in his plays.

The Only Jealousy of Emer was one of his experimental plays and is based on an Irish saga and the Japanese ‘Noh’ model. It combines a variety of symbolic representation through music, poetry, dance, and masks. The play is based around an Irish hero, Cuchulain, and his wife, Emer. She, for the first time, becomes jealous of another women, Fand, who is actually from the other world. To restore Cuchulain back to the real world, Emer must first give up all hope that she and her husband will be together one day.

The second play, The Words Upon the Window-Pane, also has this aspect of spirits and supernaturalism. The play takes place in 1928 Dublin, where during séances, Jonathon Swifts's lovers, Stella and Vanessa emerge as spirits. The Dublin Spiritualists Association invites a medium, Mrs. Henderson, to reveal these spirits.

The third and final play, The Hour-Glass, was written by Yeats in 1888. Similar to the first two plays, this third play also shares the characteristics of belief in spirits, gods and angels. There is a wise man who does not believe in a god or angles and he shares this with his pupils. They all stumble upon a foul who actually believes in a god and claims he has seen an angel but the wise man does not believe him. When the wise man's life is on the line, he must find a way for someone to convince him to believe in such views.

In their production, the students utilize many aspects of their education as they explore their artistic and creative abilities, design costumes and sets, sing, play instruments, act and work backstage as well as integrate their history and English lessons as they “live” in the time period. Stimulating growth and confidence in a student's mind with activities is a fun and lasting experience. For these intense and comprehensive experiences, the students are given a great deal of responsibility, as they carry out all aspects of the production.

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