Hamlet by William Shakespeare

We all know about Romeo and Juliet. The famous star-crossed teenage lovers and “O Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art that Romeo?” sort of stuff. Personally, I didn’t like the play. Romeo and Juliet, as actual characters, were plain and the best character is Mercutio, who not only dies halfway through, but is the reason why the play became a tragedy.

On the other hand, I really liked Shakespeare’s style of writing. He writes all about death, blood and of the era when stories of knights and magic were popular. So I thought, “gee, is there a story that is dark, has fantasy and a lot of blood and death, but also has a decent romance and lively characters? And I didn’t have to look any farther than Shakespeare’s “Hamlet.”

For those who like dark themes, like myself, there is a lot in this play from duels and poison to talking to skulls. Hamlet, the main character of this play, is told by the ghost of his father that he was murdered by Hamlet’s uncle, who is not only the new king of Denmark, but is married to Hamlet’s mother (a sinful act in its time). Hamlet spends the rest of the play not only facing the burden of a promise that he is not sure to keep, but additionally has to deal with the depression and suicidal thoughts leading up to the start of the play, something that a lot of teenagers could possibly relate to. And of course, it’s one of Shakespeare’s tragedies, so almost all of the named characters die by the end. There’s a lot of troubled minds to question and analyze, so fans of psychology would love this play. On top of that, despite the frequency of death, “Hamlet” is actually a better love story than “Romeo and Juliet.” Hamlet and Ophelia are the only link to each other’s sanity.

Finally, the characters are amazing. I loved their development throughout the play and how they appeal to the audience in their decisions. Ophelia, although a dutiful daughter in the end, sasses her father and brother when they tell her to stay away from Hamlet. Polonius, being the nosy parent, spies on everyone and knows their private business. Hamlet, who not only has the role of the emo teenager, but also is clever enough to make fun of every single character in the play. And poor Horatio, who wonders how he got caught up in this mess.

All in all I really enjoyed this play and hope that you get the chance to read it.

Hamlet, and all of its printed and film incarnations, is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. 

The Google Art Project

The Google Art Project is a vast collection of art and from different museums from all over the world that can be visited without leaving the house. There are many benefits to visiting this online museum, and while these benefits are very helpful, some could be improved.

As I was exploring the different features, I found many perks in visiting the Google Art Project. For example, I found a panel that grouped pieces of art by the artist, medium, art movement, historical events or figures, and places. This was nice because it allowed me to find many art pieces in a certain category. One of my favorite things while visiting this online museum was the zoom feature, which lets me see finer details, such as printed text and small, intricate designs left by the artist, I would not have otherwise been able to see had I gone to a regular museum. The drawback to this, however, was that although I could see the artwork in more detail, it took a long time to load when I wanted to zoom in very closely, so it wastes some time, too. Another helpful thing the museum has is virtual tours of some museums.

The Google Art Project, in making art and museums more accessible to the general public, allows people to appreciate art and history to a greater degree, and I believe that this is important in a society. While the Art Project could be improved and expanded, I think that it’s a good start in allowing more people who may not have the time or don’t live close to a museum to access artworks.

-Aliya A.

Arts Alive Festival 2016

The annual Art’s Alive Festival is hosted by Mission Viejo at the Norman P. Murray Center. This year’s event took place on April 30 and May 1 with a 90’s theme. Street painters, youth or adult, come to showcase their skills. There are great booths set up with fun activities like henna tattoos, cookie walks, and just little shops with paintings, clothes, and plants to buy. There’s always music playing when you walk in and musicians on the stage. It’s a fun event to visit that allows you to be involved with the community.

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As a street painter for the last two years, I love coming to the festival and presenting artwork as an artist, even if it’s something I’m not known for. There were many interpretations of the theme this year, but a popular one seemed to be Disney, especially The Lion King. My friends and I decided to draw a 90’s cartoon.

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There were also a few Pokémon and Nirvana drawings. And how could you forget the 90’s hit show, Friends?

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This year’s paintings were very colorful and vibrant. It was impressive to see what some of the artists could draw, even the younger kids were able to shade the paintings almost perfectly, which brought the festival to life. All the festivals held by Mission Viejo are worth checking out to get an up-close view of what our community means to us and how we celebrate it.

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-Sabrina C., 10th Grade

Romeo and Juliet, A Theatre Review

Recently, I sat in the audience of the Laguna Playhouse Youth Theatre in Laguna Beach as I watched actors both young and old act out Shakespeare’s famous play, The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet. To be honest, I had no complaints about the play itself. The actors were all very well rehearsed and the performance was very polished, a difficult feat given how hard it is to read Shakespearean dialect, let alone memorize and perform it.

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“Romeo and Juliet” by Frank Dicksee

Many parts which I remember from reading the play itself were identical in the stage adaption. A couple scenes were edited, but only slightly. Additionally, a few scenes were different than what I had pictured as well as from what the movie versions of the play depicts. A main example of this is the fight that the Capulet and Montague families have in the middle of the market in the beginning of the play. I imagined there to be more characters on each side while the Laguna Playhouse adaption maintained a smaller crowd. Regardless, these slight differences did not necessarily take away from the overall play. It was still very enjoyable.

If you are someone who enjoys watching student theatre productions, I would definitely recommend looking into the Laguna Playhouse productions. I have watched a variety of productions there, from Tom Sawyer to an adaption of Lois Lowry’s The Giver to The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. I have always been extremely impressed by the performances because these students are all able to produce a polished and entertaining performance in addition to handling the stress of school.

– Leila S., 10th grade

A Word with Mrs. Debra Weller, Storyteller

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During this interview with the ‘Voices of the Future Storytelling’ club teacher, Mrs. Debra Weller, I learned a lot about how she began a storytelling club. We met for this interview after a storytelling club meeting at Bathgate Elementary School.

ME: How and when did you become interested in becoming a professional storyteller?

MRS. WELLER: It started when I was a girl, and I got sent to my room when I was naughty. I would start making up stories with my dolls. When I was 14, I started teaching a class at my church for fourth graders, and I used stories to teach them.  Finally when I was 26 years old- I had just given birth to my daughter- I met another woman who was going to take care of my daughter. She said, ‘You know, there may be something we can do together, because we want to stay home with our babies.’ We formed the Annie-Lynn Storytellers, and we performed for six years together.

ME: You wouldn’t be doing storytelling for so long if it didn’t benefit you. What benefit do you get from storytelling?

MRS. WELLER: I like using my music and telling serious stories. I like to teach adults how to be storytellers as well as children.The benefits for me are bringing a wholesome way of introducing many beautiful stories from around the world.

ME: Where did the tradition of Storytelling come from?

MRS. WELLER: It’s actually an ancient tradition. It started in many cultures probably 3,000 years ago. In the Kelti times, Shankes went from Irish village to village telling tales. In the Native American culture, Proquastraries explained things that happened in nature. Chinese, Indian, Japanese, South American, Africa, and the Medieval storytellers were quite active throughout the world. Continue reading