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North Thespians perform a futuristic, gender-bending Shakespeare play

Julia Melnick

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Many Shakespeare plays feature a strong female role, but in their current adaptation of Henry V, the  Niles North Theatre Department takes feminism to the next level, by turning King Henry into a woman.

This year’s spring play is H5, a modernized adaptation of  Shakespeare’s history play. The Bard’s  Henry V is set more than 400 years ago; H5 takes place in the year 2020. To add even more thrill to this historical play, Henry is now Henrietta, played by senior Shannon Rourke (see above, leading the pack).

Rourke says that updating Shakespeare for a teenage audience helps them understand and relate to the play. Rourke has been involved in the Theatre Department since before she even attended Niles North. Her first role onstage at North was as one of the children in Fiddler in the Roof  in 1999.

“This is my last show at Niles North and I’m very bittersweet about it. I absolutely love this theater department and couldn’t be more honored to have the lead in the last show. I’m sad to leave all the people, of course, but I’m excited to use what I learned here at Niles North and bring it on to college and beyond.  It’s been a rewarding 13 years as a member of the department, so it’s almost surreal that I’m leaving in a month. I’m just so honored I get to leave on a high note as H-5 in H-5,” Rourke said.

The cast performs a free show for the community in the Drama Performance Center on Thursday, May 3, at 10 a.m. as well as a 1:00 show for students and teachers.  Other performances are Friday, May 4 and Saturday May 5 at 4 p.m. and 7 p.m.  Tickets are $10.

Timothy Ortmann is the director, Annaliisa Ahlman is the technical director and junior Rachel Sepiashvili is stage manager. The full cast and crew list can be located on the Niles North homepage.

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North Thespians perform a futuristic, gender-bending Shakespeare play