Regional Shakespeare Competition: Shining a Spotlight on Aryana Figueroa
All the world was a stage at the Regional Shakespeare Competition, and Apex senior Aryana Figueroa along with nine competitors from various schools in the state, its players. On the evening of February 17, the ten thespians stepped onto the campus of William Peace University to perform both a monologue and a sonnet of the Bard’s prose to compete for the title of Regional Champion.
Figueroa was a raw nerve while performing Constance’s monologue in King John and Sonnet 43. And although the actress did not secure a victory in writing, her seamless recitation and impeccable tone made for a memorable performance that stood out as a triumph of its own.
Figueroa’s talents can deceive her audience into thinking that her performance comes of ease, however, behind the curtains, she applies a great deal of thought to her craft. The performer is always looking for a challenge. She was inclined to participate in the competition to push herself out of her comfort zone, stating, “I always like to challenge myself with theatre. It’s just a really good experience to work on something and see the growth that comes out of it.” When choosing her monologues, she worked to challenge herself by picking ones that were both dramatic and vulnerable. On top of this, Figueroa applies a subversive process to get into character. When on stage, she takes a pause and lowers her head, and the audience is actively able to see her embody her character. “In the beat before, I just look down and try to visualize everything leading up to that moment: the circumstances of the character, what they want… Through the process, I definitely made progress in visualizing the characters and heightening the tactics and stakes.”
Although Figueroa wishes she had more time to work with her monologue, she strived to add vulnerability and truth to her characters, both of whom were experiencing grief. “That was one of my biggest challenges going into it because grief wasn’t something I’ve experienced. I just wish that I had more time with it to really get to know the characters and figure out how it would relate to my life.” However, the actress made due with her short planning period, and was still able to successfully connect with the audience, transcending the intricacies of Shakespeare’s writing.
Although the complexities of Elizabethan literature can seem daunting to some, Figueroa was able to overcome this fear with the help of the school’s drama teacher, Laura Levine. “Throughout learning with Ms. Levine this year, I’ve realized that Shakespeare’s writing style is really just exactly how we speak — the characters want what they want. They’re talking the same way that we would in a different language… That took the pressure off of me this year.”
As for her future, the actress has made theatre a lifelong pursuit. She plans to continue theatre in college, and in her adult life through community theater. But, wherever she may end up, Figueroa is sure to astound. As Shakespeare once said, “Things done well and with a care, exempt themselves from fear.” With the care that Figueroa shows in her craft, she has paved her path to success.