May 2015 Hudson Country Montessori School
340 Quaker Ridge Road, New Rochelle, New York
Classic Stage Company’s Hamlet, A Major Win by William Barsky
Ambient music plays. An array of white and purple light shines through the beautiful flowers that drape from the ceiling. A man walks out patrolling the area as another group of people walk in. Who are these people? These people are the key actors in Austin Pendleton’s production of William Shakespeare’s, The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark.
Peter Sarsgaard’s performance as Hamlet was remarkable: from small things like winking at Ophelia (Lisa Joyce) during Claudius’ (Harris Yulin) toast at dinner, to the evident embrace of this well-known character and his emotions. With his projecting voice, Sarsgaard made you believe that he was insane and hungry for revenge with the beat of his chest and the screams of a depressed, suicidal, drug addict.
Despite the incredible performance, there was one thing that Sarsgaard could have improved. “To be or not to be, that is the question.” This iconic line, not only to Hamlet but Shakespeare himself, was actually one of the worst parts of this play. It lacked lyricism and was sped through, making these key lines dulled and felt as though they were unimportant lines having no real connection to the play. However, this might have been one of the many new directorial choices that Austin Pendleton added to this play. One of the many directorial changes done by Pendleton was to take out the ghost and his lines. Although many people may think this is a bad choice, I actually think it puts a new spin on the play’s characters and the insanity of Hamlet; how it was all in his head, in a sense.
Another directorial choice was the five-tiered wedding cake that stood in the same spot throughout the entire play. I think this is another great modern view on Hamlet and Shakespeare, whether you see it as representing the whole story starting with the marriage, or as symbolism, in the sense that it was one of the only things that was left unchanged. Either way, it was a nice touch.
The overall production gave the audience a modern view of Hamlet: from the clothing to the snorts of cocaine, as well as the humor and the swagger Hamlet and, to a lesser extent, other characters displayed. Lastly, one of the notable changes and ideas that Pendleton added were the spirits of Ophelia and Polonius (Stephen Spinella) that appeared during the play. Ophelia’s spirit attended her own funeral and watched Polonius and Hamlet fight, one of the greatest and most intense scenes of the play. Polonius’ spirit walked across the stage unnoticed in the final scene. This was a new idea that might have caused some confusion as to why they were there, yet it embraced the spiritual world, superstition, and the presiding beliefs during Shakespeare’s time, Elizabethan England.
Next, Ophelia. Overall, a nice performance. She really convinced you that she was mad, playing with her hair, singing songs, and crying. Despite those elements, in the scene in which she met with Hamlet about the letters, she laughed when was supposed to be sad and was acting very strange, leaning down when being talked to and speaking with a strange tone.
As for Gertrude, there was a bit of overacting, stressing simple things like greetings for Hamlet, while other characters did not treat their lines the same way. It was like this throughout the entire play, except for the scene in which Polonius dies, where she has an appropriate and convincing emotion displaying anger, confusion, and sadness, as she witnesses “the bloody deed”. Polonius, on the other hand, gave one of the best performances, with a witty sense of humor and the exact right amount of lyricism and emotion when needed. This made the play interesting and funny and was a nice addition to the play.
As for the three actors who played the guards, acting troupe, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, Fortinbras, and the grave digger, they were all great. The actor who played the member of the troupe who recited the Hecuba speech did so incredibly, making you, just as Hamlet had done, experience his grief and emotion. Daniel Morgan Shelley (playing four characters) and Scott Parkinson were great additions. They gave the play humor, when Shelley sneaks a wine bottle as he walks off, as well as serious, well-executed lines, such as Scott Parkinson as the grave digger. I also enjoyed the small gestures things they did, such as licking one’s fingers after enjoying a treat at dinner, “smoking” during the acting troupe scenes, and doing vocal exercises and stretching.
Last, but not least, the location. This theater was perfect for both the audience and the play, with exceptions to a few collisions with props. The theater, holding 199 people at max, provided an amazing view for any seat that you had and made it extra special for the people sitting front row (us). For the people sitting front row, there were several encounters with the actors, and at times made it so you were a foot away from the stars. So close, one of our classmates was spit on. This was a great location for the play and was one of the most enjoyable parts of the play, to have these encounters with the actors.
In conclusion, despite a few cons, I loved this play and would definitely recommend it to anyone who is a fan of Shakespeare and literature in and of itself. It was extremely entertaining, but I would recommend familiarizing yourself with the text, not only so you can fully embrace the play, but because, at times, the language was hard to understand. For someone unfamiliar with the story, it could be confusing. Again, I would definitely recommend this play because it was a great Shakes-perience.
The Classic Stage Company Embodies Hamlet With a Modern Twist By Isabella Graziano
The new Hamlet by the Classic Stage Company is quite a long sit—about three hours and a half to be exact. It is a modern version of the play with added bits of humor. It is a very interesting take on the original play by Shakespeare that keeps you engaged.
Since the room in which the play is performed is very small, and there weren’t many props; it was extremely hard to tell if the characters were outside or indoors, since they switched frequently. Also, because of the lack of room, often characters are on stage when they aren’t in the scene. They main table is pushed toward the right wing of the audience, at one point, preventing them from seeing low scenes such as Ophelia going mad, which was quite important. During the “Murder of Gonzago” Claudius and Gertrude have their back to the front wing of the audience, because of poor chair placement. After the intermission, the actors walked in and started talking without waiting for the audience to quiet down, so a few of their lines were missed.
One major difference from the original play was the fact that the director decided to take out the presence and voice of the ghost. I find this to be a major set-back because the scene where Hamlet finds out how is father died is eliminated, and that was the inciting incident that influenced Hamlet’s future actions.
Harris Yulin (Claudius) has a very deep voice and mumbles 80 percent of his lines. He lacks emotion, and when he prays, he seems almost bored instead of guilty. He also has a very dull reaction, when the Players preform the murder of King Hamlet. At his death, instead of being forced to drink the poison, he simply take the cup, drinks it, and lays his head down on the table. Peter Sarsgaard has a very loud voice, and embraced his part of Hamlet. Although, he does spit a lot of his lines, and I would imaging Hamlet younger. He also does not speak poetically, although not many of the characters do. I found the cocaine part unnecessary, especially since there were younger kids in the audience.
Just like Claudius, Penelope Allen (Gertrude) lacked emotion. She was also a bit too old for her part. Laertes was a great actor, but he was also quite old for his character, and I mistook him for Polonius once. He was forceful in his speaking. Although, there was this one point where Laertes is supposed to be giving Ophelia advice, then they start chasing each other around and giggling like school girls, and I thought it was odd and immature.
Ophelia was constantly running her hands through her hair throughout the play, which was very distracting. She did go crazy a little too early in the play, which was a bit
confusing, but she acted that part really well. Ophelia also was on stage where she wasn’t needed. For example, she interacted with Hamlet during his first soliloquy when no one was supposed to be around.
I found Polonius to be my favorite actor in the play. He was funny, spoke loud, and added plenty of emotion to his lines. He also spoke to the audience with I really liked because it kept the audience engaged; however, during his death scene, he never fell down, he just walked off the stage with his mouth open, like a zombie.
With this said, overall the performance had a lot of good aspects.The director added humor to the somewhat sad play by Shakespeare and it kept me engaged and interested. Most of the actors were enthusiastic when playing their parts. It had a very nice modern twist, and I suggest you go see it.
US News by Ganesh Pillai
So it’s time for a big family road trip. Everyone has been on one of those, right? It seems as if nothing could dampen the mood, and then you pull up to the pump. Gas is always something one must keep in mind, not only for car-functioning reasons but for financial reasons as well. But now, many people might not have to deal with this problem - for a little while.
Starting in late 2014, the price of gasoline began to drop significantly. It dropped so significantly that now, in certain states, gas can be bought for less than two dollars a gallon compared to the usual three dollars per gallon. Before the dip in price, one gallon of gas costed, on a national average, $3.74. Now, it is about $2.65. But the real importance of this story is not the prices dropping themselves, but why it is dropping and the effects of it.
One of the key reasons that oil is dropping is because of the regulations on efficiency. Regulations such as the higher miles-to-gallon ratio on cars. This means that less oil can be used to go longer distances, thus reducing the consumption of oil.
Another reason is that United States and Canada are using “alternative” methods for oil production. The United States has started hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in states like North Dakota. Canada is now extracting oil from the country’s “gooey” sands located in Alberta.
There is now much more supply than demand for the resource. This is because of the regulations mentioned above, as well as many economies weakening. The situation has gone so far as to have leftover oil being stored away for later. But with more electric cars on the market and more miles to the gallon, who knows when that time will be.
The effects of this drop in oil prices are both good and bad. They are good, of course, for the consumer, who can now spend a significantly less amount of money on oil per year. But, like most cause and effects, there are two sides to the story.
The bad effect of this price drop affects the countries that produce it in the first place. One country that bears the brunt of this problem is Russia, whose economy relies heavily on oil production. Oil revenues make up 45% of the government budget (Rashid, thedailystar.net). Iran is also having to deal with this situation. The country’s economy was projected to be on the rise, but the drop in oil prices project a different story. Other countries that are dealing with this include Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, and the United States.
This is a situation where there will always be a losing side. If oil prices go back up, the consumer will suffer. If the prices stay down, oil producing countries suffer. There is no neutral party here, except for the oil itself.
In other news, the race for 2016 has begun with many candidates from both parties announcing that they will be running.
Starting with the republican side, there have been five people who have announced their candidacy: Texas senator Ted Cruz is running; Kentucky senator Rand Paul; Florida Senator Marco Rubio; former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee; former business executive Carly Fiorina; former IRS commissioner Mark Everson; and former neurosurgeon Ben Carson as well. The arguably toughest competitor for the democrats, Jeb Bush, has not announced that he is running, but it is almost certain that he is.
Now to the Democratic party, there are only two candidates, compared to the republican’s seven. There is Bernie Sanders, who was a senator from Vermont, and the more popular Hillary Clinton, who kept supporters waiting for quite a long time before making “the announcement” on April 12. Hillary Clinton ran in 2008 and lost to Barack Obama in the primaries. She is going to try again, with, let’s face it, less competition. She was also, of course, Barack Obama’s secretary of state.
Among the republican party, the most popular candidate, or in this case potential candidate, is Jeb Bush, who wins about 51% of the vote among the republicans according to a CBS news poll. He has a 9% lead over the next closest candidate, Mike Huckabee. On the donkey side of things, Hillary Clinton is beating her closest candidate by just about 37%. She claims 81% of the democratic vote.
One of Jeb Bush’s main disadvantages is that many people do not want a third Bush. Other drawbacks are his stance on immigration and his extreme opposition to the common core education standard. He does have a lot going for him, though, because he was a very popular governor of Florida, which is an important swing state during the national election. He also could win the hispanic vote because of his good relationship with the hispanic community in Florida.
One of Hillary’s main drawbacks is that some people might not want another Clinton in office. She has also received a lot of scrutiny because of her use of a personal e-mail account for her secretary of state duties. But she, too, has a lot going for her. Her husband was one of the most successful presidents in U.S. history, despite what some say, and she was the secretary of state, a job which does call for someone with good decision making skills,
Whichever candidate you vote for in 2016, just remember to take into consideration all the facts. Do your research, because we all want the most qualified candidate to win, right?
Minecraft by Marwa Ali
What’s the game that crashed the Internet and created a zombie apocalypse? That’s right! It’s Minecraft! There are many cool parts about Minecraft. Here are some of my favorite parts.
Parts of Minecraft are very educational. It teaches you how to make glass by burning up sand and how to craft stuff out of wood. I didn’t know how to make glass until I started playing.
But Minecraft isn’t all that boring. There are zombies, skeletons, creepers, and spiders that you have to battle at night to keep the game interesting. You can also go into the nether world and The End (where you battle the ender dragon).
If you don’t want to pay for Minecraft, you can always play the demo, but it’s not as much fun. In Minecraft, you don’t have to follow the rules. You can do whatever you want - except sit down.
What do you think about Minecraft now? Did I convince you? Of course I did. I hope you liked my article.
Brave Frontier by Mohamed Ali
Have you ever wanted to play one of the most awesome Role Playing Games (RPG) ever? If you have, download Brave Frontier. Brave Frontier is an epic role playing game where you have to beat the four fallen beasts (Max, Mage, Zebra, and Cardess) and most importantly, have fun.
Brave Frontier is a free-to-download game. It has one in-app purchase. This purchase is the gems you might need to survive. Gems can be used to rare summon, revive, replenish arena, and quest energy. Rare Summon is when you use gems to get 3-star units and up. For each 10 rare summons, you get a 5-star unit. In some special events, you have a small chance to get a 6-star unit. If you wish to understand more about revive, replenish arena, and quest energy, you’d better play the game. It’s complicated.
Brave Frontier has many levels and many playable characters. Your starting characters are Selena (Water), Lance (Earth), Vargas (Fire), and Eze (Thunder). In the beginning you can only choose 1 starting character. Later, you can make different teams by mixing up the elements.
The element are fire, water, earth, thunder, light, and dark. Fire beats earth. Earth beats thunder. Thunder beats water. Water beats fire. Light and dark are double-edged swords because they’re strong and weak against each other.
I personally believe that children will enjoy this game. I love it because of all the action and adventure, and how, in the middle, there are tear-inducing plot lines. There are many features in this game that are very interesting.
Some things you can venture into are battles, journeys to get treasure, fights with monsters, fighting other players, and more. You will quickly love this game and adore it forever.
Sploder by Ryan Russo
Here’s a game that I created. It was not complicated at all. In fact, it was easy! You just go to sploder.com, create an account that is free, and then make a game. I used the package called the Algorithm Crew.
Sploder is kind of like Minecraft. It can be multiplayer or single player. Furthermore, you place blocks, enemies, and hazards in order to publish it to the website. You can publish your game by pressing publish on the right side of your screen. It is fun and easy, too.
Let me tell you about my game. You have to get the scientist out of harm’s way. On the last level, you have to get into the portal before it closes. Are you up to the challenge?
Here is the link for the game. When the link brings you into the website, press Yes, then Test. Friend me on sploder as WhatsUpWorld. I hope you enjoy my game.
The Lit Bit by Ganesh Pillai
What’s your favorite book? This seemingly unanswerable question, if answered, would probably yield the response To Kill a Mockingbird. This literary masterpiece was made by Harper Lee, the one-hit wonder of literature - it being her only published novel. However, what if I told you that she was a two-hit wonder?
After Harper Lee won our hearts with the narrative of Scout Finch, she was told by her editor to write another book with this same character. She wrote it, but it was lost until 2014, when found by her lawyer. This book is called Go Set a Watchman and it could be a modern-day classic just like its predecessor. The book is to be available for purchase on July 14.
The book’s plot is about Scout Finch, an adult now, who goes from New York to Alabama to visit her father, Atticus Finch, in the town where she grew up. The discovery and publishing of this book (to be published on July 14, 2015, by HarperCollins) has ignited much debate over its authenticity, but it has also sparked a lot of excitement. The finding of the manuscript was a stroke of luck… a great one. A sequel to one of the most popular books in history that was fifty years in the making...you can call that good fortune.
So if you are into classics, go out and pre-order Go Set a Watchman. Read it and then let me ask you that same question. What’s your favorite book? Maybe your answer changed.
The Top 3 Books That Teens Should Read
We, teens, are forced to reading a lot. Whether it be a summer assignment or part of weekly classwork, there is reading everywhere. With so many books out there, how can you pick which one to have a go at. I know a few that could make reading not seem “forced” at all.
One of the best books that I have ever read is To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. While it might not seem like the “fun” sort of book, it sure has every quality a book needs to lift it above the others. It has suspense. It has action. It is a true classic, centered around one the most important themes of the 19th, 20th, and even the 21st centuries - racism.
To Kill a Mockingbird is the story of a young girl, Scout Finch, who grows up in Alabama during the mid 20th century, one of the worst places for a black man at that time. The reader can come to love her naive character, as well as her father’s righteous one. Atticus Finch, lawyer and Scout’s father, causes a sensation in a small Alabama town when he defends a black man in court.
A riveting conflict for a riveting book, complete with one of the most dramatic conclusions I have ever read.
And speaking of stellar conclusions, let’s talk Shakespeare, specifically Hamlet, his most popular work. Many children know this literary genius’s name but have never read any of his plays. They might think it is too hard to understand, but books with modern english translations render this excuse useless.
Hamlet is the the simple story of a prince’s descent into madness after his father is murdered. A very simple plot, but a very intricate play. It also, of course, has quite a conclusion. You have not read literature until you have read Shakespeare.
One last book that every child should read is Tom Sawyer. A funny book written by the master of wit and comedy, Mark Twain, in 1876.
Tom Sawyer is a simple tale about a simple boy and the adventures that he goes on to escape the monotony of everyday life. He breaks away from parental control and rules and takes the reader with him on a very hilarious journey. So join Tom Sawyer, Joe, and Huck for the ride of your life.
These are the three books that I think every teenager should read. These books do not only have to be for reading assignments. They are so entertaining, you will enjoy reading them, believe it or not, for fun!
DIY: How to Extract Your Own DNA by Sam Nesin
For my article, I decided to do an experiment. I decided to construct a video explaining how to conduct it. Here it is. I hope you enjoy it!
Cooking With Maura: Confetti Cupcakes and Homemade Frosting by Maura LaRocca
For my article, I decided to do a video and do a cooking show. This video explains how to make confetti cupcakes and homemade frosting.