Romeo and Juliet: The Summer Shakespeare Program

By Sai R.

Today marked the last of June during SSP, and it was certainly a day to remember. Our day began with the class activity session, where Dr. Jill, part-time researcher (full-time comedian), gave an intriguing lecture on optical density and spectrophotometry. A lot of it was new material to me, and Dr. Jill definitely frightened me when she taught us about the sinister-sounding “extinction coefficient” that is part of the Beer-Lambert equation. Aside from that, l learned valuable information about the mechanism of a spectrophotometer, and I also gained a thorough understanding of Bradford assays.

During the work time, my research group and I (The Light Switches!) did lots of hard work to create standard curves, and that class activity taught me how illiterate I am at using Microsoft Excel. Luckily my research mates, Maggie and Micah, were absolute champs and carried me through the whole Excel process.

Campus block was a blast, where Group 5 led an activity known as the Commentary game. In this game, participants must find an object in their house in less than a minute that fits a certain category assigned by the TAs. They will then give a 45 second speech explaining why the object they chose fits the category, and during their presentation, fellow participants must make comments in the zoom chat about their speech/object. The comments are hilarious and everyone has a great time. At the end of the game, the winners from each breakout group got together to think of a punishment that the TAs must do, and the group decided to make them perform a rap battle to the song Habanera from the play Carmen, which will happen sometime soon!

We are also trying to convince the directors to put the rap battle on the official website, which probably won’t happen. But if it does, look out for it future applicants! As this video will encompass the true nature of SSP, not the high pressure environment you might think it’s like.

Today’s TA block was probably the best of the program so far. First off, we continued Week 2 of the research project, where we analyzed the results of a gel electrophoresis experiment for our proteins, and using this data, we were able to evaluate the expression and purification of our protein. We did this same analysis for a different substance earlier this week during the class activity session, and I immensely struggled. But I am glad I did, as I was able to use that experience to approach today’s data for the research project with complete confidence. This really highlights the effective nature of SSP, and I know fellow participants would agree with me when I say that this program has been designed perfectly to help us succeed (and make us lose out on sleep, but that’s a different story). Creating a class activity that prepares us for the corresponding section of the research project is brilliant, and I just want to say thanks to all the faculty that work 24/7 to ensure that this program runs smoothly and effectively. But what else would you expect from the faculty of a 50 year-old program that is known for being one of the best in the nation?

Although the research project was very fun, what made today so special was what happened in the last 5 minutes of the day. Earlier this week in the TA block, we played the Commentary game, and today was the day TA Rachel and TA Devin would have to do their punishment. The winner of the game, Matthew, decided to make them perform the balcony scene from Romeo and Juliet. Furthermore, Rachel would have to play the part of Romeo, while Devin played the part of Juliet. When the punishment was announced, we all anticipated that it would be an incredibly humorous experience, but what we experienced blew our expectations. Rachel pierced the scene wearing her father’s suit and enacted one of the most exceptional, heart-wrenching dialogues I have ever heard. It was something that looked straight out of broadway! And it almost brought tears to my eyes. All the while, Devin was dressed in a very beautiful dress that most definitely did not fit him. And while Rachel was pouring her heart and soul into her dialogue, Devin stood there acting prim and innocent. He really encapsulated the feminine, naive nature of Juliet. However, the only thing off about the performance was Devin’s attempt to speak like his character. It was a little confusing to figure out if he was trying to sound like Juliet, or if he was trying to meow like a cat. Anyway, although he probably does not fit the Broadway persona like Rachel, with his high pitched voice he could easily become a voice actor for any female anime character.

I laughed the most I had in a while, and I am sure I will remember this day forever. SSP is shaping out to become one of the best experiences of my life. Can’t wait for the rest of it.