Spotlight

Hartford Stage Company's production of Twelfth Night
The American Shakespeare Center's production of Twelfth Night
Fairbanks Shakespeare Theatre's production of King Lear
Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival's production of Othello
San Francisco Shakespeare Festival's production of A Midsummer Night's Dream
Shakespeare & Company's production of A Midsummer Night's Dream
The Old Globe Theatre's production of Twelfth Night
Arkansas Repertory Theatre's production of Henry V
The People's Light & Theatre Company's production of The Winter's Tale
The Shakespeare Festival at Tulane's production of Hamlet
Production photo of The Winter's Tale
Production of Othello
Production photo of Much Ado About Nothing
Production of The Taming of the Shrew
Production photo from The Taming of the Shrew
Production photo from Othello
Production photo from Romeo and Juliet
Production photo from Romeo and Juliet
Production photo from Cymbeline
Production of Macbeth
Three actors speaking to another actor sitting on hay bale.
Female actor in a rage clinching fists.
Actors on multi-level modern stage.
Two actors speaking to one another with blue background.
Actor traditionally dressed speaking directly to audience.
Many actors on stage dancing around in a circle.
Bearded actor in a military uniform shakes hands with a woman in a white dress.
Performance on a modern set with swirly black and white tiles.
Three actors dressed as witches, two on stilts.
Actor in costume at an outdoor theater.
A group of actors on stage under blue lights carrying umbrellas
Shakespeare actors on a modern set performing A Midsummer Night's Dream
Actors dressed in masks hold chairs above their heads.
Modern Shakespeare set with 40s-style costumes and a black and white tile floor.
An actor playing Othello expresses anger.
Three Shakespearean actors on stage
Actor holds a dying man in his arms
Outdoor stage with costumed actors
Crowded room of actors and audience members mingling together
Actors in 80s style costumes--bright neon colors
Actors on stage wearing bright, modern costumes
Two actors fight in front of a set with a vintage automobile
Three actors in Shakespearean costume sit at a dining table on stage
Actors on stage in front of a red and black curtain
Actors in raggedy costumes looking quizzical
An actor playing Othello gestures at the sky
Actors on stage with fairy puppets
An actor with open arms on bended knee
Actors dressed in American Western costumes
Hartford Stage Company's production of Twelfth Night

Our company has committed itself to producing the best that the classical theater canon has to offer, including the works of William Shakespeare. Tresnjak has committed Hartford Stage to not only producing Shakespeare, but also bringing the best artists and scholars to be part of these productions. By allowing our community to talk about the play as a script, we are encouraging and inspiring our educational community to talk about play as a script, see the production, and then talk about the artistic interpretation critically.

During 2012-2013, Hartford Stage Company in Hartford, CT conducted four performances and 25 educational activities (workshops) throughout eight days that benefitted more than 1,700 middle- and high-school students from 33 schools located in Connecticut and Massachusetts.

Photo by T. Charles Erickson, courtesy of Hartford Stage Company.

The American Shakespeare Center's production of Twelfth Night

The workshops at the Virginia School of the Deaf and Blind had a strong impact on both the participants and the workshop leaders. Our education artists worked with the teachers to create workshops that allowed this special population to have the full experience, including a workshop on stage combat. This was paired with a performance that was fully interpreted in American Sign Language to allow the students’ learning to come full circle.

During 2012-2013, The American Shakespeare Center in Staunton, VA conducted 14 performances and 30 educational activities (workshops and talkbacks) throughout 17 days that benefitted more than 1,500 middle- and high-school students from 16 schools located in Virginia.

Photo by Tommy Thompson, courtesy of The American Shakespeare Center.

Fairbanks Shakespeare Theatre's production of King Lear

The students responded favorably especially in the communities where the Alaskan Native students were the majority and were familiar with the Gwich’in language. Many of them were surprised and proud to see professional Alaska Native actors performing Shakespeare while highlighting their culture. This combination of these languages spurred many discussions on the preservation of cultures through storytelling and literature. 

During 2012-2013, Fairbanks Shakespeare Theatre in Fairbanks, AK conducted 13 performances and 29 educational activities (workshops and talkbacks) throughout 13 days that benefitted more than 1,900 middle-and high-school students from 19 schools located in Alaska.

Photo by Lee Johnson, courtesy of Fairbanks Shakespeare Theatre.

Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival's production of Othello

"The death of Desdemona caused the crowd to either become deathly silent or to erupt in excited whispers. I'll never forget when, as Lodovico, I asked the audience directly 'Is this the noble moor that our full senate call all-in-all sufficient?' The students shouted back, 'NO!' It was one of the great moments where the concept of the fourth wall gets kicked to the curb, and as a performer I’m suddenly hyperaware of the mass of humanity seated before me. The first time the audience shouted out, I pretend not to hear and hurried off stage. By the end of the tour, I was challenging the audience to speak, happy to transform that moment into a direct line of communication between us." — actor Scott Watson

During 2012-2013, Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival in Cold Spring, NY conducted 11 performances and 321 educational activities (residencies and discussions) throughout 42 days that benefitted more than 1,800 middle- and high-school students from 10 schools located in New Jersey and New York.

Photo by William Marsh, courtesy of Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival.

San Francisco Shakespeare Festival's production of A Midsummer Night's Dream

Shakespeare’s plays were intended to be performed and our tour gives students a chance to put the words into a perspective and setting rather than just simply reading the play in the classroom. Time and time again, we hear from students that they are engaged by texts in the classroom, but when they see a performance they not only enjoy it but are excited to return to see the text embodied before them. Letters from students and teachers serve as proof of this success, as does repeated requests to return to perform for the schools.

During 2012-2013, San Francisco Shakespeare Festival in San Francisco, CA conducted 94 performances and 125 educational activities (playshops and discussions) throughout 65 days that benefitted more than 25,000 middle- and high- high school students from 76 schools located in California.

Photo by John Western, courtesy of San Francisco Shakespeare Festival.

Shakespeare & Company's production of A Midsummer Night's Dream

An actor was expecting to have difficulties at the culturally diverse Lawrence High School in Lawrence, Massachusetts where over 80% of the students speak English as a second language. The cast had the audience giving them a standing ovation before the end of Act I and many students in the workshops offered to help the cast with the set and costumes.

During 2012-2013, Shakespeare & Company in Lenox, MA conducted 40 performances and 46 educational activities (workshops and discussions) throughout 44 days that benefitted more than 11,000 middle- and high-school students from 50 schools located in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont.

Photo by Chad Champoux, courtesy of Shakespeare & Company.

The Old Globe Theatre's production of Twelfth Night

Students were remarkably attentive to the shows and responded very well to the performances. Their questions showed strong engagement with the story and curiosity about the process. Conversations about the show were overheard by The Globe’s staff and actors after each performance. Students walked away laughing about specific scenes, enjoying reenactments amongst themselves, repeating various lines, and explaining confusing moments to their classmates.

During 2012-2013, The Old Globe Theatre in San Diego, CA conducted 23 performances and 28 educational activities (workshops) throughout 20 days that benefitted more than 6,300 middle- and high-school students from 21 schools located in California.

Photo by J. Katarzyna Woronowicz, courtesy of The Old Globe Theatre

Arkansas Repertory Theatre's production of Henry V

Arkansas is primarily a rural state with cultural resources and funding for the arts severely limited or nonexistent in most areas. For many students, a trip to Arkansas Repertory Theatre is their sole exposure to a live theater experience. Substantial decreases in school funding for the arts in the classroom continue, thereby necessitating increased input from community resources. Of the schools we served with this year’s program, the majority are located in school districts where over 70% of the students receive free lunch.

During 2012-2013, Arkansas Repertory Theatre in Little Rock, AR presented student matinees of Henry V directed by Producing Artistic Director Robert Hupp. In addition, the company provided study guides and scripts for teachers, workshops, and post-performance discussions. A total of three performances and nine educational activities benefitted more than 1,000 middle- and high-school students from 23 schools located in Arkansas.

Photo by Stephen B. Thornton, courtesy of Arkansas Repertory Theatre.

The People's Light & Theatre Company's production of The Winter's Tale

Our workshops in the schools, our social media and web presence, and our production were thoughtfully interconnected in a way that one resonated and amplified the other. Students felt great ownership of the story and investment in the characters. Several students shared on Facebook that they told their friends to come and see the production or that they themselves came back to it again during an evening performance.

During 2012-2013, The People’s Light & Theatre Company in Malvern, PA presented student matinees of The Winter’s Tale directed by Guy Hollands, as part of their Discover Series. In addition, the company provided workshops, post-performance discussion, and a study guide. A total of six performances and 19 educational activities benefitted more than 1,200 middle- and high-school students from 23 schools located in Pennsylvania.

Photo by Mark Garvin, courtesy of The People's Light & Theatre Company.

The Shakespeare Festival at Tulane's production of Hamlet

As always this project is the most rewarding of any that our company undertakes. Countless times, our actors state that students are one of the finest audiences for whom they performed in front of. This is one reason why we focus heavily upon the text. It is our opinion that Shakespeare provided everything that is necessary, requiring no gimmicks. As we say, just do the play.

During 2012-2013, The Shakespeare Festival at Tulane in New Orleans, LA presented student matinees of Hamlet directed by Managing Director Clair Moncrief. In addition, the company provided post-performance talkbacks, workshops, study guides, and a bus subsidy. A total of seven performances and 18 educational activities benefitted more than 4,000 middle- and high-school students from 62 schools located in Louisiana.

Photo by Martin Sachs, courtesy of The Shakespeare Festival at Tulane.

Production photo of The Winter's Tale

Programs like this one not only engender an ongoing appreciation for arts and literature in the lives of young people, they provide enriching, educational experiences beyond their classroom. Shakespeare in American Communities makes it possible for theater companies to expand and explore new partnerships with school districts and institutions and provides critical tools and resources for teachers as part of building stronger community relationships.

During 2011-2012, Yale Repertory Theatre in New Haven, CT presented student matinees of The Winter’s Tale directed by Liz Diamond, as part of the WillPower! arts and education initiative. In addition, the company provided professional development for teachers, workshops, post-performance talkbacks, and study guides. A total of five performances and 16 educational activities benefitted more than 1,400 middle- and high-school students from 37 schools located in Connecticut and Massachusetts.

Photo by Joan Marcus, courtesy of Yale Repertory Theatre.

Production of Othello

Students were particularly excited by the clever transition from Venice to Cyprus. A larger curtain surrounded a bed on stage for the first scene, then it transformed into moving sails, and then it hung from the ceiling to create a sumptuous, Turkish-tinged set for the remainder of the play. Students appreciated how this theatrical device instantly changed the setting, tone, and direction of the production. Many remarked that they had been transported to a new place and were impressed that the setting, not just the actors, had such an effect.

During 2011-2012, Folger Theatre in Washington, DC presented student matiness of Othello directed by Robert Richmond. In addition, the company provided study guides, pre-performance workshops, residencies, and a post-performance forum. A total of two performances and 162 educational activities benefitted more than 200 middle- and high-school students from ten schools in the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia.

Photo by Carol Pratt, courtesy of Folger Theatre.

Production photo of Much Ado About Nothing

Since our inception, the Guthrie has been known as a national leader in the production of Shakespearean drama. The Theater invests significant resources in developing actors who are especially adept in Shakespearean interpretation, providing them access to master teachers and trainers, such as Andrew Wade, former Head of Voice at the Royal Shakespeare Company.

During 2010-2011, Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, MN presented both student matinees and evening performances attended by students of Much Ado About Nothing directed by Artistic Director Joe Dowling. In addition, the company provided play guides, show-and-tells, an educator workshop, and post-performance discussions. A total of 18 performances and 21 educational activities (show and tells, discussions, and workshop) throughout 18 days that benefitted more than 3,900 middle- and high-school students from 69 schools located in Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, and Wisconsin.

Photo by Michael Brosilow, courtesy of Guthrie Theater.

Production of The Taming of the Shrew

As the students were waiting for the production, a palpable energy could be felt. Students from inner-city, suburban, and rural schools who did not know one another were interacting with each other. A wave, like those seen in a sporting event, was started by one school and soon the entire audience began to throw their hands up as the wave rolled across the audience. The stage went dark and when the lights came up, the actors knew their audience was ready for the experience.

During 2011-2012, Denver Center Theatre Company in Denver, CO presented student matinees of The Taming of the Shrew directed by Artistic Director Kent Thompson. In addition, the company provided study guides, a teacher and school coordinator training, workshops, and post-performance talkbacks. A total of two performances and 26 educational activities benefitted more than 1,300 middle- and high-school students from 11 schools located in Colorado.

Photo courtesy of Denver Center Theatre Company.

Production photo from The Taming of the Shrew

All students participated in talkbacks with the cast after each performance. The students’ questions revealed their understanding, engagement, and depth of preparation to attend the show. 

During 2011-2012, Theatre for a New Audience in New York, NY presented student matinees of The Taming of the Shrew directed by Associate Artistic Director Arin Arbus, as part of the company’s World Theatre Project. In addition, the company provided curriculum guides, extensive residencies, and post-performance talkbacks. A total of six performances and 394 educational activities benefitted more than 760 middle- and high-school students from 11 schools located in New York.

Photo by Henry Grossman, courtesy of Theatre for a New Audience.

Production photo from Othello

Highlights included students from the residency class at Marin Oaks High School who elected to lead an assembly for their whole school and share what they had learned from our teaching artists; the actors who served as fight captains for the production led an introduction stage combat lesson at another school; and the staggeringly astute questions asked by the students in the question-and-answer discussions with the cast following each performance.

During 2011-2012, Marin Theater Company in Mill City, CA presented student matinees of Othello directed by Artistic Director Jasson Minadakis. In addition, the company provided pre- and post-performance workshops, residencies, and post-performance question-and-answer discussions. A total of four performances and 193 educational activities (workshops, residencies, and discussions) throughout 50 days that benefitted 720 middle- and high-school students from 18 schools located in California.

Photo by David Allen, courtesy of Marin Theatre Company.

Production photo from Romeo and Juliet

Some of the most meaningful moments came from conversations with the actors after the show. Several audiences wanted to discuss our choices to shift the genders of Benvolio and Lord Montague to Benvolia and Lady Montague. This seemed to shift the perspectives for both students and teachers. Many people felt that they saw more friendship and compassion in Shakespeare’s text with women in those roles. That led to a discussion of the ways that boys show friendship and emotion.

During 2011-2012, The Shakespeare Center of Los Angeles in Los Angeles, CA presented student matinees and weekend shows of Romeo and Juliet directed by Chris Anthony. In addition, the company provided study guides, pre-performance workshops, and post-performance discussions. A total of nine performances and 66 educational activities that benefitted more than 1,600 middle- and high-school students from 15 schools located in California.

Photo by Michael Lamont, courtesy of The Shakespeare Center of Los Angeles.

Production photo from Romeo and Juliet

Students were most successful when they felt the ownership of Shakespeare’s language based on their own paraphrasing and analysis. Thus our teaching artists empowered students to actively brainstorm a plethora of paraphrasing choices and fully commit the ones they ultimately decided were the best.

During 2011-2012, Orlando Shakespeare Theater in Orlando, FL presented student matiness of Cymbeline directed by Artistic Director Jim Helsinger and Romeo and Juliet directed by Thomas Ouellette, as part of their Shakespeare Alive! program. In addition, the company provided study guides, workshops, and post-performance talkbacks. A total of 18 performances and 50 educational activities (workshops and discussions) benefitted more than 4,660 middle- and high-school students from 85 schools located in Florida.

Photo by Tony Firriolo, courtesy of Orlando Shakespeare Theater.

Production photo from Cymbeline

One of our best experiences was with students from Jefferson Young Women’s Academy, who participated in a workshop, attended a matinee, and stayed for the discussion with the cast. They were incredibly eager to share their knowledge of the play’s plot during the workshop. Afterwards, they were bursting with questions. Because the students were so engaged the actors stayed for a considerable time after to talk more about their careers as performers, as well as their love for Shakespeare’s language.

During 2011-2012, Portland Center Stage in Portland, OR presented student matinees of Cymbeline directed by Artistic Director Chris Coleman, as part of the company’s Stage Door program. In addition, the company provided resource guides, workshops, tours, and post-performance discussions. A total of 12 performances and 20 educational activities (workshops and discussions) throughout 16 days that benefitted more than 600 middle- and high-school students from 24 schools located in Oregon and Washington.

Photo by Patrick Weishampel, courtesy of Portland Center Stage.

Production of Macbeth

Interacting directly with the students gives us some immediate insight into their response to seeing a live Shakespeare performance. What we have found is that, while questions can be slow to start, by the end of a discussion nearly every hand is in the air, and it can easily last for one hour. The play evidently sparks a curiosity in the students, which we feel is what great art should achieve.

During 2011-2012, Aquila Theatre Company toured Macbeth directed by Desiree Sanchez as both a two-and-a-half hour performance and one-hour abridged version, called a Guided Tour, for schools unable to devote the time to the longer production. In addition, the company provided study guides, workshops, and post-performance discussions. A total of 19 performances and 14 educational activities benefitted more than 7,500 middle- and high-school students from 182 schools located in Alabama, California, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, Mississippi, North Carolina, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Wisconsin, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

Photo by Richard Termanie, courtesy of The Aquila Theatre Company.

Three actors speaking to another actor sitting on hay bale.

American Players Theatre is committed to presenting the original work; preserving the voice and intention of Shakespeare and the integrity of his storytelling. None of the plays they present are abridged, nor are the matinee performances altered in any way for a student audience. The performance that was seen on a September morning at 10 a.m. was the same version performed on a July evening at 7:30 p.m.

During 2010-2011, American Players Theatre in Spring Green, WI performed student matinees of All’s Well That Ends Well directed by John Langs and As You Like It directed by Tim Ocel. In addition, the company provided workshops, Potency of Poetry residencies, and study guides. A total of 11 performances and 803 educational activities benefitted more than 9,400 middle- and high-school students from 173 schools located in Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.

Photo by Carissa Dixon, courtesy of American Players Theatre.

Female actor in a rage clinching fists.

It was attractive, intimate, and interesting. For a while, I forgot they were actors and there they were: the Duke, Celia, and Orlando themselves.

–Student, High School for Leadership and Public Service, New York, NY

During 2010-2011, Classic Stage Company in New York, NY presented student matinees of As You Like It directed by James Rutherford. In addition, the company provided pre- and post-performance workshops and study guides. A total of 13 performances and 172 educational activities benefited more than 2,000  middle- and high-school students from 31 schools located in New Jersey and New York.

Photo courtesy Classic Stage Company.

Actors on multi-level modern stage.

Actors confronted one another in the aisles, scenes moved from the floor to the balconies, and actors directed some of their “aside” lines to the student audience while lounging in available seats or racing between crowded rows.

During 2010-2011, Dallas Theater Center in Dallas, TX presented student matinees of Henry IV directed by Artistic Director Kevin Moriarty. In addition, the company provided dialect and performance coaching for the cast and teaching artists, teacher development workshops and resource guide, student study guide, pre-performance workshops, and post-performance discussions. A total of 17 performances and 23 educational activities benefitted 2,300 middle- and high-school students from 58 schools located in Texas.

Photo courtesy of Dallas Theater Center.

Two actors speaking to one another with blue background.

A month after the residency ended with the Bronx High School for Writing and Communication Arts, one of the teaching artists saw a student from the class who originally had no interest in Shakespeare. She asked the student if she was enjoying what they were currently reading in English class. The student replied,”It’s okay but it’s no Shakespeare.”

During 2010-2011, Epic Theatre Ensemble in New York, NY toured Othello directed by Ron Russell. In addition, the company provided pre-performance workshops, residencies, and post-performance discussions. A total of eight performances and 147 educational activities benefitted more than 1,700 middle- and high-school students from 14 schools located in New York.

Photo by Gulshan Kirat, courtesy of Epic Theatre Ensemble. 

Actor traditionally dressed speaking directly to audience.

My involvement in your schools partnership is perhaps one of the most inspirational experiences of my eighteen-year career in secondary education. I have seen what your combined devotion to the works of Shakespeare and teaching has done for my students, as well as the teachers at my school.

–Teacher, Milwaukie High School, Milwaukie, OR

During 2010-2011, Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, OR presented mainstage productions of Henry IV: Part 1 directed by Penny Metropulos, Measure for Measure directed by Bill Rauch, The Merchant of Venice directed by Bill Rauch, and Twelfth Night directed by Darko Tesnjak. In addition, the company provided teacher trainings, workshops, post-performance discussions, and backstage tours. A total of 11 performances and 55 educational activities benefitted more than 300 middle- and high-school students from 25 schools located in California and Oregon.

Photo by T. Charles Erickson, courtesy of Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

Many actors on stage dancing around in a circle.

A memorable moment was during a discussion between students and our actors when they debated why the decision was made to cut Rosalind’s epilogue from the production. Hearing students invested in the structure and the language of the play who felt passionately about Shakespeare and his characters by engaging in this lively conversation was a unique joy.

During 2010-2011, Playmakers Repertory Company in Chapel Hill, NC presented student matinees of As You Like It directed by Producting Artistic Director Joseph Haj. In addition, the company provided a weekend teacher seminar, copies of the Arden edition of As You Like It, two film versions of the play, a short behind-the-scenes film created by PlayMakers Repertory Company, and pre- and post-performance workshops for students. A total of eight performances and 37 educational activities (workshops) throughout 14 days benefitted more than 640 middle- and high-school students from 10 schools located in North Carolina.

Photo courtesy of PlayMakers Repertory Company.

Bearded actor in a military uniform shakes hands with a woman in a white dress.

Shakespeare comes alive for students through the avenue of performance not only in viewing the production as an audience member but engaging with the text in a physical manner during the pre-performance workshops. In addition, they understand the text and find relevant connections as they approach the play through the lens of an actor.

During 2010-2011, Shakespeare Theatre Company in Washington, DC presented student matinees of All’s Well That Ends Well directed by Michael Kahn and Cymbeline directed by Rebecca Bayla Taichman. In addition, the company provided pre- and post-performance workshops, post-performance discussions, and First Folio: Teacher and Student Resource Guides. A total of 13 performances and 79 educational activities benefitted more than 2,700 middle- and high-school students from 69 schools located in District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia.

Photo by Scott Suchman, courtesy of Shakespeare Theatre Company.

Performance on a modern set with swirly black and white tiles.

The most rewarding aspect of participating in this program is the always overwhemingly positive response we receive from young audiences, who because of socio-economic barriers and a common misconception that Shakespeare’s work has limited cultural resonance, might otherwise never have had the opportunity to see his plays performed live. This year was no exception. The students were attentive, engaged, and enthusiastically responsive and made the performance even more electric.

During 2010-2011, The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey in Madison, NJ toured Julius Caesar directed by Alex Lippard and A Midsummer Night’s Dream directed by Director of Education Brian B. Crowe. In addition, the company provided workshops and post-performance discussions with the cast. A total of 19 performances and 23 educational activities (workshops and discussions) throughout 15 days benefitted more than 3,600 middle- and high-school students from 13 schools located in Connecticut and New Jersey. 

Photo by Andrew Murad, courtesy of The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey.

Three actors dressed as witches, two on stilts.

We strategically planned and served areas that they had not previously reached. These areas included northwestern Utah and southern Arizona. A higher percentage of schools participated in more than one workshop which was an increase in the number of schools taking part in at least one educational activity in comparison to previous years of the program

During 2010-2011, Utah Shakespeare Festival in Cedar City, UT toured Macbeth directed by Christopher Clark. In addition, the company provided workshops, post-performance talkbacks, and study guides. A total of 47 performances and 128 educational activities (workshops and talkbacks) throughout 36 days benefitted more than 15,000 middle- and high-school students from 36 schools located in Arizona, Nevada, and Utah.

Photo by Karl Hugh, courtesy of Utah Shakespeare Festival.

Actor in costume at an outdoor theater.

Unpretentious, hands-on Shakespeare; what more can a teacher ask for? The Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum inspires my kids with a love of Shakespeare.

–Teacher, Lawrence Magnet Middle School, Chatsworth, CA

During 2010-2011, The Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum in Topanga, CA, presented student matinees of Hamlet, directed by Artistic Director Ellen Geer, and toured A Midsummer Night’s Dream, directed by Melora Marshall. In addition, the company provided preparatory and technique workshops, professional development for teachers, study guides, and Living History presentations. A total of 13 performances and 47 educational activities (workshops and presentations) throughout 20 days benefitted more than 3,000 middle- and high-school students from 36 schools located in California.

Photo courtesy of The Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum.

A group of actors on stage under blue lights carrying umbrellas

The most meaningful moments of our tour often took place off-stage in communities. Actors shared numerous stories of students coming up to them, telling them how much they enjoyed the production, the acting, and how they wanted to see more Shakespeare. In short, they reminded us why we do what we do!

During 2009-2010, The Acting Company in New York, NY toured Romeo and Juliet, directed by Penny Metropolus, which included full-length mainstage performances and on occasion a shortened student performance. In addition, the company provided a teacher resource guide, teacher and student workshops, pre- and post-performance question and answer sessions with actors, and Literacy Through Theater residencies. A total of 23 performances and 51 educational activities benefitted more than 13,700 students from 180 schools located in Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, Vermont, and Wisconsin.

Photo by Michael Daniel, courtesy of The Acting Company.

Shakespeare actors on a modern set performing A Midsummer Night's Dream

When youth become deeply engaged in the arts, in this case via Shakespeare’s human plays and language, they learn not only about themselves but about the world around them.

During 2009-2010, Actors’ Shakespeare Project in Somerville, MA presented student matinees of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, directed by Benjamin Evett, and Othello, directed by Judy Braha. In addition, the company provided a Teacher Training Institute with curriculum guide, workshops, and post-performance discussions. A total of two performances and 12 educational activities benefitted more than 640 students from ten schools located in Massachusetts.

Actors’ Shakespeare Project was one of six selected companies to reach at-risk youth in the juvenile justice system. Their Incarcerated Youth at Play program provided residencies tailored to either boys or girls from seven different Massachusetts Department of Youth Services facilities. Artist educators worked with the youth for a period of one to four months and focused on text, writing, and performing Macbeth, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, or Othello

Photo by Stratton McCrady, courtesy of Actors' Shakespeare Project.

Actors dressed in masks hold chairs above their heads.

I wouldn't even attempt to teach Shakespeare if I couldn't take my students to see a live performance of it! When the actor came to work with my students, it really gave them a chance to show off how much they had learned. They were proud of themselves which is the goal of all learning—to empower the learner.
—Language Arts Teacher, Lennox Middle School, Lennox, CA

During 2009-2010, A Noise Within in Glendale, CA, performed student matinees of Richard III, directed by Geoff Elliott, and Much Ado About Nothing, directed by Michael Murray. The comedy of Much Ado About Nothing was set in the early 20th Century, a time when a code of honor, family, and the church were most important, and strict rules governed behavior during courtship. In addition, the company provided post-performance discussions, teacher study guides (aligned with state standards), and in-classroom workshops taught by two teaching artists. A total of 37 performances and ten educational activities benefitted more than 770 students in ten schools located in California.

Photo by Craig Schwartz, courtesy of A Noise Within.

Modern Shakespeare set with 40s-style costumes and a black and white tile floor.

The educational activities were an enormous success. They helped students relate to the Bard’s themes and language while deepening an appreciation for the performing arts and breaking down the barriers of language.

During 2009-2010, Actors Theatre of Louisville in Louisville, KY, performed student matinees of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, directed by Artistic Director Marc Masterson. The audience was transported to the 1096s when society was on the cusp of a dramatic cultural revolution. It juxtaposed the fading norms of the sterile, proper society of Shakespeare’s time with a wild, fantastical land of experimentation and excess. The musical score was performed live with a seven-piece rock band. In addition, the company provided in-classroom workshops for students to discuss the play thematically. A total of seven performances and 71 educational activities benefitted more than 4,200 students from 31 schools located in Indiana and Kentucky.

Photo by Harlan Taylor, courtesy of Actors Theatre of Louisville.

An actor playing Othello expresses anger.

The communites we are reaching don’t seek out cultural opportunities, it is not a priority in many of the households, and their peers are not exploring them. Therefore, having the chance to see the performance through their school’s participation is sometimes their first exposure to theater.

During 2009-2010, African-American Shakespeare Company in San Francisco, CA, performed student matinees of Othello, directed by Artistic Director Sheri Young. In addition, the company provided their Shake-It-Up educational activities. A total of eight performances and 63 educational activities benefitted more than 1,800 students from 12 schools located in California.

Photo courtesy of African-American Shakespeare Company.

Three Shakespearean actors on stage

During one of the matinees, two high school girls sat next to one another in the front row, and as the scene progressed they held hands and leaned against each other and were completely taken with what was occurring in front of them and were crying.

During 2009-2010, Baltimore Shakespeare Festival in Baltimore, MD presented student matinees of Hamlet, directed by Artistic Director Michael Carleton. In addition, the company provided study guides, copies of the script to each student, a companion website for educators, pre- and post-performance workshops, and encouraged students to write critiques of the play to post online. A total of six performances and 18 educational activities benefitted more than 1,100 students from 20 schools located in Maryland.

Photo by Michael Carleton, courtesy of Baltimore Shakespeare Festival.

Actor holds a dying man in his arms

I wanted to faciliate the encounter between our actors and the text. I wanted the actors to have the unmatchable experience of diving deep into this expansive, ever-expanding, and challenging text and to relish the experience.
—From Director Gerard Stropnicky

During 2009-2010, Bloomsburg Theatre Ensemble in Bloomsburg, PA performed Project Discover student matinees of Hamlet, directed by Producing Ensemble Director Gerard Stropnicky. In addition, each participating school received a half-day session of Page To Stage workshops before and after the performance. A total of nine performances and 19 educational activities benefitted more than 2,800 students from 30 schools located in Pennsylvania.

Photo by Nicole Combs, courtesy of Bloomsburg Theatre Ensemble.

Outdoor stage with costumed actors

For many students, the extended residencies were a welcome break from being trapped behind their desks. They found an opportunity to redirect their energy into a positive form of expression. For those who were shy, the work encouraged ensemble building and created a safe environment for them to take risks.

During 2009-2010, California Shakespeare Theater in Berkeley, CA presented A Midsummer Night’s Dream, directed by Aaron Posner, as part of their Student Discovery program. In addition, the company provided Cracking Open Shakespeare professional development for educators, a teacher’s guide, pre- and post-performance workshops, an on-site 32-second Midsummer, extended residencies, and post-performance question-and-answer sessions with actors. A total of 12 performances and 140 educational activities benefitted more than 2,600 students from 47 schools in California.

Photo by Jay Yamada, courtesy of California Shakespeare Theater.

Crowded room of actors and audience members mingling together

I knew coming into the theater that the play would be interactive, and I have to admit I was a little afraid. As I left the stage with the babushka-wearing citizens behind me, I truly had nothing to complain about. There had been nothing to fear at all.
—Student, Minnehaha Academy, Minnneapolis, MN

During 2008-2009, The Children’s Theatre Company in Minneapolis, MN, presented a promenade style Romeo and Juliet, directed by Greg Banks. In addition, the company provided an in-depth residency with Plymouth Youth Center Arts and Technology High School and workshops during a Teen Festival. A total of 18 performances and 30 educational activities benefitted more than 4,300 students from 69 schools located in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Photo by Dan Norman, courtesy of The Children’s Theatre Company.

Actors in 80s style costumes--bright neon colors

Seeing comprehension cross the students’ faces during the workshop was like a light bulb as they suddenly were able to connect the material to their own lives.

During 2009-2010, Dallas Theater Center in Dallas, TX presented student matinees of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, directed by Artistic Director Kevin Moriarty, as part of their Project Discovery program. In addition, the company provided professional development for teachers and student workshops. A total of 16 performances and 12 educational activities benefitted more than 3,000 students from 60 schools located in Texas.

Photo by Brandon Thibodeaus, courtesy of Dallas Theater Center.

Actors on stage wearing bright, modern costumes

At first our students were a bit skeptical about watching a Shakespeare play, but when it was over their enthusiasm and excitement was astonishing. They are still talking about how wonderful it was a week later.

During 2008-2009, Idaho Shakespeare Festival in Boise, ID toured A Midsummer Night’s Dream, directed by Sara Bruner, as part of their Shakesperience program. In addition, the company provided study guides, post-performance discussions, and workshops. A total of 73 performances and 80 educational activities benefitted more than 17,900 students from 63 schools located in Idaho.

Photo by DKM Photography, couresty of Idaho Shakespeare Festival.

Two actors fight in front of a set with a vintage automobile

Success was apparent when our sales to the youth population grew significantly, which was a result of the intimacy of the production and the sense that the language had been altered into contemporary parlance, even though it had not.

During 2009-2010, Indiana Repertory Theatre in Indianapolis, IN presented student matinees of Romeo and Juliet, directed by Tim Ocel, as part of their Discovery Series. In addition, the company provided a study guide for students, complimentary workshops, and post-performance discussions. A total of 22 performances and 58 educational activities benefitted more than 9,100 students from 108 schools located in Indiana.

Photo courtesy of Indiana Repertory Theatre.

Three actors in Shakespearean costume sit at a dining table on stage

We were concerned [that my playing two parts] would disengage students from the story. On the contrary, students confirmed during the post-performance question-and-answer sessions that they had not noticed these characters were performed by the same actor. We think this speaks to the impact live theater has on young people.

During 2009-2010, Lantern Theater Company in Philadelphia, PA presented student matinees of Henry IV: Part 1 directed by Artistic Director Charles McMahon. In addition, the company provided an eleven-lesson curriculum guide, workshops ad training for teachers, in-classroom workshops, and post-performance discussions. A total of six performances and 72 educational activities benefitted more than 600 students from 11 schools located in Pennsylvania.

Photo by Mark Garvin, courtesy of Lantern Theater Company.

We are currently working in underserved communities; the gratitude for our work is intense. Teachers tell us "this is my favorite day of the year."

During 2009-2010, Montana Shakespeare in the Parks in Bozeman, MT toured a production of Romeo and Juliet, directed by William Brown, as part of their Montana Shakespeare in the Schools program. In addition, the company provided study guides, post-performance question-and-answer sessions, and workshops. A total of 47 performances and 176 educational activities benefitted more than 11,100 students from 47 schools located in Montana and Wyoming.

Photo by Tonya Andrews, courtesy of Montana Shakespeare in the Parks.

Actors on stage in front of a red and black curtain

During the tour, a group of behaviorally-challenged, inner-city students who were having extreme difficulties with their studies and personal life not only were interested but took interest in the material and the performers. They were one of the most responsive audiences during the question-and-answer session. It was one of the our company’s most poignant tour experiences.

During 2009-2010, The North Carolina Shakespeare Festival in High Point, NC toured productions of Hamlet and The Taming of the Shrew, directed by Outreach Education Artistic Associate Martha Mendenhall. In addition, the company provided study guides for teachers, post-performance workshops, and post-performance question-and-answer sessions. A total of 67 performances and 50 educational activities benefitted more than 12,800 students from 51 schools located in North Carolina.

Photo courtesy of The North Carolina Shakespeare Festival.

Actors in raggedy costumes looking quizzical

Performances and workshops put the arts in the students’ minds and bodies and inspire and motivate them to learn more and to explore their own creativity.

During 2009-2010, The Nashville Shakespeare Festival in Nashville, TN presented matinee and evening performances for student audiences of The Tempest, directed by Claire Syler, at a community venue. In addition, the company provided post-performance talkbacks with the director and cast and workshops. A total of 11 performances and 50 educational activities benefitted more than 2,000 students from 34 schools located in Kentucky and Tennessee.

Photo by Rick Malkin, courtesy of The Nashville Shakespeare Festival.

An actor playing Othello gestures at the sky

Without hesitation and with pride, I readily assert that Park Square has the most delightfully engaged students attending their matinees. The students and teachers are well prepared in advance of their visit. They arrive and are treated with the same respect as an adult audience and students are given a sneak peek into the workings of the production.

During 2009-2010, Park Square Theatre Company in Saint Paul, MN presented student matinees of Othello directed by Richard Cook. In addition, the company provided workshops and Build a Moment™ demonstrations. A total of 13 performances and 37 educational activities benefitted more than 3,300 students from 48 schools located in Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.

Photo by Amy Anderson, courtesy of Park Square Theatre.

Actors on stage with fairy puppets

Schools in the city of Spokane proved very difficult to book in regard to our normal experience. We widened the scope of the tour to include rural areas surrounding Spokane and schools were very receptive. Despite difficulties with the tour, the performance clearly connected with the students.

During 2009-2010, Seattle Shakespeare Company in Seattle, WA toured a production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream directed by George Mount. In addition, the company provided workshops and post-performance discussions. A total of seven performances and 12 educational activities benefitted more than 1,300 students from 13 schools located in Washington.

Photo by William Walker, courtesy of Seattle Shakespeare Company.

An actor with open arms on bended knee

The students were consistently engaged with the play's text, setting, characters, and plot because of our unique immersive production style. We find that young people respond deeply to this immersive experience and their raw, honest, and immediate emotional responses makes every performance memorable.

During 2009-2010, Trinity Repertory Company in Providence, RI presented student matinees of Twelfth Night directed by Brian McEleney, as part of their Project Discovery Plus program. In addition, the company provided workshops and post-performance talkbacks. A total of nine performances and 87 educational activities benefitted more than 3,300 students from 55 schools located in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island.

Photo by Mark Turek, courtesy of Trinity Repertory Company.

Actors dressed in American Western costumes

I try to tell my students that for actors preparing for a play is not just memorizing their own lines but understanding all aspects of the play. They got to see the benefit first hand. You provided great examples of the acting craft and provided thoughtful answers during the talkback. Thanks for reinforcing things I have said which is always more meaningful from someone other than their classroom teacher.
—Teacher, White Pine High School, Eureka, NV

During 2009-2010, Utah Shakespeare Festival in Cedar City, UT toured a production of The Taming of the Shrew directed by Jan Shelton (artistic director of Tuacahn High School for the Performing Arts), as part of their Shakespeare-on-the-Schools program. In addition, the company provided workshops and post-performance talkbacks. A total of 56 performances and 89 educational activities benefitted more than 12,400 students from 44 schools located in Arizona, Idaho, Nevada, and Utah.

Photos by Karl Hugh, courtesty of Utah Shakespeare Festival.