Columbia High School's Shakespeare Festival Club began the year with romance, angst and death -- all played out in teacher Steve MacPherson's classroom on a recent Thursday afternoon.
"Mr. Mac," as MacPherson is known, leads the annual festival, which is a club at CHS.. He served as consultant this summer to first-time director Brandon Wright.
Wright heads the first-ever all African-American production of Antony and Cleopatra at Chernuchin Theater at American Theater of Actors in Manhattan. In return, Wright brought in some of the cast members, including CHS alum Uton Onyejekwe.
To a spellbound group of some 50 students and numerous adults, the cast performed brief scenes from the tragedy, which Wright described as "the most tragic love story of all time."
"It's also relevant now," said Wright of the play, set in classical times. "It's about absentee leaders during wartime, people who fall in love with a bang and turn away from their responsibilities."
After watching, it was the students' turn to perform. Each cast member gathered a group of students and coached them through exercises and a scene. As the students giggled and then performed, Wright watched with satisfaction.
"It's stage magic," he said, as the classroom was taken over by Shakespeare. "It works every time, so come see the show."
Tickets are now on sale for the performances beginning this month.