Touchstone Theatre was founded in 1981 as a producing and presenting arts organization that fosters inter-cultural, international, and community collaborations. At its heart is a resident professional ensemble of theater artists. The vision of Touchstone Theatre grew from the founding members’ experience with Lehigh University Improvisational Street Theatre Troupe and the People’s Theatre Company. Its mission is to create, produce, and present original theatre; tour original and ensemble-created work; provide educational programs to local youth; and demonstrate the power of theatre as a community-building tool. Touchstone’s programming is brought to the public and schools through the coordinated efforts of the ensemble members who oversee production, education, and touring. Production offers a season of mainstage performances for the general public including contemporary, classic, and original ensemble-created works at the theatre’s headquarters. Education exposes local youth to the arts, teaching theater as a positive means for self-expression. It comprises a school-based visiting artist programs (ArtsTouch) for mostly underserved and at-risk youth. Touring brings Touchstone productions to schools, festivals, community centers, and other venues.
As part of Shakespeare for a New Generation, Touchstone Theatre will tour The Tempest to middle and high schools in northeast Pennsylvania and the surrounding region, providing performances, workshops, and assemblies to underserved youth. The 25 schools that are targeted for the tour are located in Lehigh, Northampton, and Adams counties. The production features a three-member cast playing ten plus roles in a ninety-minute adaptation. Participating schools can choose any combination of workshops or assemblies that will be held before and after the performance. The theater workshops are designed to give students experiences based on Touchstone’s artistic process of The Tempest and knowledge to help them watch the play with a critical artistic eye. The language arts workshops will look at the text and story for students to understand Shakespeare’s language. Assemblies are interactive and include demonstrations and discussions of scenes and/or rehearsal techniques. Each workshop has a specialized teacher’s guide to be used to prepare the students, to engage them with the teaching artists during the workshop, and to help teachers continue the lesson after the workshop.