"Much Ado" Takes the Fifth Annual Thundermug

As the sun set behind the Berkshire-Taconic mountains on Sunday, May 20, student and faculty teams performed a series of Shakespearean shorts on Goodbody Terrace outside of the Katherine M. Elfers Hall during the annual Thundermug competition. 

Competitors included: Skylar Kim '19 and Dylan Kalaydjian '19, reading from The Taming of the Shrew; Hannah Lothian '19, Mame Balde '20, and Maura Thompson '20, acting a scene from Othello; and Michael Duncan '19, Sam Suslavich '18, Tutor Doron Blake, and Instructor in English and Theatre Parker Reed, acting from King Henry VI, Part 2.

The coveted Thundermug went to Billy Burns '20, Charlie Knight '20, Meszion Ramsden '20, and Rock Zhu '20, who delivered their best from Much Ado about Nothing, complete with wigs and props. Judging the evening were Stephanie Thomas, Steavie Reed, Chris Burchfield, and "Thunderhost" Anna Connell '18.

During the 1970s, the competition involved all the lower mids, according to Caroline Kenny-Burchfield '77. The event was revived five years ago and was extended to the full community, complete with a trophy, an old ceramic pot known as the Thundermug.

"I personally enjoy when students invest the time and energy necessary to achieve something significant beyond the curriculum, especially when they collaborate with each other," Instructor in English and Theatre Parker Reed said. "I've seen some great partnerships produce some stellar performances, and the students alone deserve credit."

"Hearing snippets of great stories delivered by enthusiastic actors to unsuspecting spectators feels like some festival of old, and it's among my favorite Hotchkiss traditions."

"By exploring the language, students actively dispel the fib that Shakespeare is archaic, inaccessible or boring." Reed continued. "They can then be ambassadors to help others find their way to Will. I think Shakespeare is thriving at Hotchkiss: Students currently engage with him from prep through upper mid year; some then take the Shakespeare and the Bible course. We produce a Shakespeare play approximately once every other year through the Hotchkiss Dramatic Association. Eleven students will be traveling to England from 6 - 14 June this summer to watch plays and visit historical sites."

For Sam Suslavich '18, who has competed annually during his four years at Hotchkiss, working with faculty and classmates for the competition has led to a love of Shakespeare. "The event gives you a chance to experience Shakespeare outside of the classroom, which is really fun. Often students see Shakespeare as a stuffy topic. Thundermug gives us a chance to see it as accessible. It's a chance to take part in the theater. And it's really fun to watch your friends."