The festival can best be explained using feedback from the students themselves: “Shakefest is an amazing tradition.” “It’s where kids go to find themselves an escape from the harsh reality known as high school life.” “It is where we allow the theater to take control of us and where we embrace our inner divas and inner stars.” “This festival brings people from all over together in a hodge-podge of acting-stew that we don’t get to experience anywhere else.” “To be able to perform in front of my peers was amazing.” “All the passion that is expressed made me buzz with excitement — Shakefest is such a fun-loving, wonderful journey.”
The crux of the festival takes place over three days. The students start as early as 8:30 in the morning and it’s almost 9:30 in the evening before they finally get back to their beds. They are divided into two groups: the Drama groups and the intensive groups. There is no stigma attached to either of the two groups, it is a matter of choice. In past years about 250 students would choose to participate in the drama strand and about 100 would choose the intensive strands.
To choose an intensive strand, a student should have attended at least two previous festivals and/or must have a keen interest in one of the intensive topics. The intensive strands are Writing, Art, Vocal, TV & Video and Theatre. If a student chooses an intensive strand, they will attend one workshop for the entire festival in the strand of their choice.
Students who choose the drama strand are divided into groupings and will rotate through a variety of workshops. Workshops in past years in the drama strand were:
- Learn to rap
- Become a Rhythm Orchestra
- Directing a performance
- Construct Elizabethan costumes
- Poetry to movement
- Story making
- Design concepts for Shakespeare plays
- Circus skills
- Writing conflict
- The whole body voice and
- The conscience of an actor
Each day starts with a keynote speech by one of the presenters, and this is followed by three workshops which extend well into the afternoon. After the workshops, there is a short break, then rehearsals and then the evening performances. Workshops, entrance to all performances, and 2 BBQ lunches are included in the very modest festival registration fee as well as a gift bag which contains a T-shirt, water bottle and/or note pad, and a beautiful collector pin.