BRIANNA SCALESSE 16′
Trinity College has more than 140 student run organizations. But, what do you do if you find yourself unable to discover a club or organization that fits your specific interests? This is exactly the position that Raekwon Wheeler, a sophomore, found himself in during his freshman year. Attempting to expose himself to new projects and endeavors, Wheeler, who is considering a double major in Poly Sci and Theater and Dance, enrolled in multiple prominent organizations on campus, including ConnPIRG, and received an internship at the admissions office for the multicultural recruitment team. However, he felt a void in his life that was not being satisfied.
“I entered a constant battle within myself between my love for politics and my love for acting. People say its unrealistic to be an actor,” says Wheeler. Although there are multiple prominent acting organizations on campus, Wheeler could find no solace for his very particular love for Shakespearian theater and he could not curb the deep yearning he felt for acting. He began asking himself the famous question: “To be or not to be?”In other words, would it be better to delve headfirst into creating his own organization or to allow doubt to devour his dreams? It’s a dramatic question. Wheeler has been acting since elementary school, when he joined the John Casablancas talent company.
He even landed himself a role in a Kix commercial. But, it was not until Middle School, when he watched the girl he had a crush on perform in A Midsummer’s Night Dream, that he fell in love with- not the girl- but Shakespeare. In his following four high school years, Wheeler acted in a production of a Shakespeare play every fall. He played Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet, a play centering on tragic love, violence, and family, and gained a deeper understanding for Shakespeare’s works. Wheeler came to realize that Shakespeare is an essential part of a timeless culture. William Shakespeare’s works, although written over 400 years ago, have instilled invaluable lessons in people for centuries. Shakespeare is even responsible for inventing over 1,700 English words and countless phrases that are so often used and so integrated into our collective vocabulary that they are considered modern day clichés. Shakespeare captured both human emotion and experience in his plays, which would forever render them not only timeless to read, but most importantly, to see.
“Shakespeare was never meant to be read. It is meant to be performed for an audience,” stressed Wheeler. “Sound and Fury” is also accessing the long popular and now everpresent trend in the production of Shakespeare: the Idea that the plays can be adapted and reimagined to fit more closely with our own modern mindset. For many theater enthusiasts like Wheeler , Shakespeare is a template on which a director can place new layers and angles: psychology, comedy, and political overlays. It can be just about anything the director wants it to be. Following his passion, Wheeler finally came to the decision that he would go through the laborious process of creating a new campus organization. He first had to ask himself: what would the club’s purpose be? How would it impact Trinity?
“I want to destigmatize Shakespeare. Something that’s fun and cool, not looked at as burdensome.” In the Spring of 2015, Wheeler embarked on the brave quest of starting a wholly original and new club on a campus already full of established organizations. Delving into Shakespeare’s Macbeth, he discovered the title for the club, “Sound and Fury: Trinity College’s Shakespeare Players.” In explaining the process of creating a club Wheeler said, “I had to draft a constitution from scratch, find a faculty advisor, and obtain signatures from the student body.” But after all the logistics finally came the fun. Wheeler was able to establish his goals for the club and plan upcoming events. His desires spread past Trinity itself to the greater Hartford community involving local schools and performing arts charities and even to other college campuses.
Perhaps most notably, and displaying his distinct creativity and talent, Wheeler crafted a recruitment video that can be found on the group’s Youtube channel “Sound and Fury Trinity College.” Wheeler used Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” melody to display the fun of Shakespeare and how it can swiftly (pun intended) be brought into the modern age. He hopes to make more Youtube videos chronicling popular Shakespeare plays. Wheeler is the latest in a long list of Trinity innovators. It is a special privelege to be able to create one’s own club , though it goes unused, by and large. But with no limit on the possibilities of future clubs and student-run organizations, It is always heartening to see growth and new arrivals in the college arts scene and club community.
With any luck, it’s people like Wheeler who will help the art and drama world at Trinity grow larger and more influential. Wheeler teaches Trinity and college students beyond a valuable lesson: that you do not have to give up the activities you enjoy once you begin college, because even when it appears that all hope is lost, you can create your own oasis. Wheeler reminds us all how improtant it is to “Do what you love- do what you’re passionate about.”
BRIANNA SCALESSE 16′