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Shakespeare lives on at Lahainaluna High School

By Staff | Feb 11, 2010

Gathered in the Lahainaluna High School Library following the student presentations for the Shakespeare Monologue Competition are, from left: sitting — Gina Mataafa, Kiana Yamat, Okusitino Tauta and Katherine Cloutier; standing — Graham Seiki, Christian Rocha, Gaylord Garcia, Alexandrea Cardenas, Marie Mussa, Erin Pendergast, Lakisha Victorino-Hose, Jazzy Sado, Melis Vural and Jessica Vernoy; Matt Spath is in the far back with arms outstretched.

LAHAINA — Lahainaluna High School senior Jessica Vernoy provided a winner’s rendition of “Phoebe” from William Shakespeare’s play, “As You Like It,” to earn top honors in this year’s Shakespeare Monologue Competition held at the school on Jan. 27.  

This first place finish gives her another opportunity — her third, actually — to participate in the state finals of this annual competition sponsored by the Hawaii Branch of the English Speaking Union. 

It was an impressive field of friendly competitors who all ably presented their selected monologue of up to 20 lines.

Second place was awarded to senior Okusitino Tauta, who presented “Lewis” from King John, and third place went to junior Alexandrea Cardenas for her portrayal of “Hamlet.” Christian Rocha and Melis Vural earned Honorable Mentions.

Next month at the Honolulu Branch competition, contestants will be required to present their monologue and a sonnet from memory.

Vernoy said, “I am so thankful to everyone who helped put together the contest, and it is such an honor to represent Lahainaluna on Oahu again. I am going to try my hardest to prove them proud.”

Last year, Vernoy placed a respectable third. The state winner receives an all-expenses-paid weekend to compete at the national level in New York City.

At LHS, Drama Instructor Graham Seiki made reciting a Shakespeare monologue by memory during class a requirement this quarter for all students, but participation in this competition was voluntary.  

Cardenas said, “It was a really eye-opening experience. I thought it was really fun playing someone else, and the judges were incredible!” 

Tauta commented, “I’ve never really done anything like this before, and didn’t know how it would be, but the experience as a whole really opened my eyes to the world of acting. I plan to continue pursuing different activities that involve acting.”  

Gaylord Garcia, Gina Mataafa, Marie Mussa, Eryn Pendergast, Jazzy Sado, Matt Spath, Lakisha Victorino-Hose and Kiana Yamat also entered the contest, which was held after school in the LHS Library. A life-sized Shakespeare book served as the backdrop.

Assisting Seiki with this event was Katherine Cloutier, a theater professional whose services have been provided through Theatre Theatre Maui (TTM) to periodically assist the school’s drama classes. 

Cloutier noted, “In the years I’ve been doing this, my passion is with sharing Shakespeare with the students. As they increase their understanding and creative expression, we can see how these works truly live on.  Thank you, TTM, for allowing me share the ‘Joy of the Bard!’ ”

The panel of three judges consisted of Mark LeDoux, Kristi Scott and ‘Ute Finch — all well-experienced in the performing arts. Their job was to observe the students’ performances, rate their stage presence and delivery of Shakespeare’s words and provide constructive feedback.

Returning judge LeDoux said, “I was delighted to be asked again to be a judge, and as before was overjoyed by the enthusiasm and good efforts of the contestants. I was especially pleased to see contestants from last year who have developed so much, and new contestants who show so much promise. Each student gave us something that was special, and I congratulate every one.”

All participants received a certificate of achievement for their efforts. As a gift from Theatre Theatre Maui, Vernoy received a $20 gift card and Tauta and Cardenas each received their own book of the “Complete Works of William Shakespeare.”

A nonprofit organization headquartered in Lahaina, Theatre Theatre Maui is dedicated to bringing the performing arts to the students and adults of the greater West Maui community. TTM annually offers a summer program of creative drama.

For more information regarding TTM, call 661-1168 or e-mail TTMWestMaui@aol.com.