Canterbury Tales Come to Life at Hopkins
Hopkins Drama Association (HDA) brought a classical text to life during the winter production of The Canterbury Tales on December 7, 8, and 9.
Taking the place of the usual winter one act play, this show is directed and produced by Drama Teacher Mike Calderone, who described it as “a complete show.” The Canterbury Tales is a set of stories written by Geoffery Chaucer that describe the lives of twenty-nine pilgrims on a religious pilgrimage to Canterbury, England.
Although the text is originally in Middle English, the script being produced by HDA is a modernized take employing updated language on this classical text. Calderone described his interpretation on the classic: “We’re having a lot of fun reimagining the tales; each one is going to have its own style and costume. We’re not limiting ourselves to a ‘medieval England’ theme.” One of the pilgrims, Elizabeth Roy ’20 (Wife of Bath/Queen), added that, “It’s really cool for me to read the script because it was nice to understand what it means, since it is not in Middle English, and the story itself is actually very funny.”
In previous years, the Sophomore Class spent a unit in English class reading a selection of stories from The Canterbury Tales and memorized the opening verses of The General Prologue. Sophomores, along with English faculty members, would recite the verses in an annual Assembly performance that made this text a quintessential part of the Hopkins student experience.
Calderone appreciated the iconic status behind this show, saying, “I love it whenever we can do a show that ties in with the academic curriculum. Who knew that the English Department (who suggested I look at this show!) would be dropping Canterbury Tales from their reading list this year!” Roy ’20 commented: “It’s a nice opportunity for the 9th and 10th graders to get a sense of the tales even if we don’t get to read them in English class.”
The Canterbury Tales is a different style of show than the normal winter one act play. Calderone described, “What’s different about this show from other one-acts is that there is a cast of ‘Pilgrims’ on their way to Canterbury...whose presence ties the entire show together, as opposed to having a jumble of sketches and one acts with a common theme.”
The broken-up rehearsal style allows people who also participate in sports to be a part of a HDA production. Ellie Doolittle ’20 (Allison) said, “It’s really cool that students who maybe don’t normally act in HDA productions due to sports commitments can get to experience it.”
Zander Blitzer ’18 (Dorigen) continued this sentiment: “It’s really easy to pull the show apart and work with one group of people at a time, and it’s really nice for the time commitment, making sure each tale only has to rehearse the same amount that a one act rehearses.”
Michelle Medina ’18 (Old Woman/Death) said, after finding a passion for theater last year, “I don’t get the chance to do theater very often, so I really want to take this opportunity, because it’s a shorter amount of time and you don’t have to meet as frequently as a normal HDA production.” Roy ’20 also said, “It’s nice for me, because I get to do theater with people that I don’t see on a daily basis, and they get to dip their toes in the water a little bit.”
In the last two weeks before the final performances, the entire cast got together and did a run-through of all of the tales to create a cohesive community. Graley Turner ’20 (Prioress) described this HDA community as, “One big family. Between our directors and all of the cast members and our stage manager, everyone is just so nice and helpful and we are all excited to work together.”