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Arts Midwest Announces 2013–2014 Shakespeare in American Communities Grants

Grants Mark 11th Year of Support Totaling $11,670,625

June 26, 2013

logo-natl-endowment-for-artsMinneapolis, MN – Arts Midwest today announced $1 million in grants to 40 nonprofit, professional theater companies in 21 states, plus the District of Columbia, to perform Shakespeare for students through Shakespeare in American Communities. The awards mark the eleventh consecutive year of Shakespeare in American Communities, a national program managed by Arts Midwest in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). Each of the participating theater companies will present productions of Shakespeare plays to students from at least 10 schools. Accompanying educational activities include in-school residencies, workshops, or post-performance discussions. Performances will take place between August 1, 2013, and July 31, 2014.

Shakespeare in American Communities introduces middle and high school students to the power of live theater and the masterpieces of William Shakespeare. Since the program’s inception in 2003, Shakespeare in American Communities has benefitted more than 2.25 million individuals, including 1.9 million students, with live performances and educational activities.

“Arts Midwest is thrilled to partner once again with the National Endowment for the Arts for Shakespeare in American Communities,” says David Fraher, president & CEO of Arts Midwest. “Now in its 11th year, we continue to support worthy organizations across the country by providing the opportunity to reach young and diverse audiences and increase their appreciation of the incomparable works of Shakespeare.”

Organizations receiving $25,000 grants for the 2013-2014 season include:

  • California Shakespeare Theater (Berkeley, CA) will present student matinees of The Winter’s Tale as part of their Student Discovery program. The educational activities will be multifaceted and include teacher training, classroom workshops, residencies, and other experiences at the theater, including their “32-second Shakespeare” game.
  • Tennessee Shakespeare Company (Germantown, TN) will present student matinees of Romeo and Juliet at the City of Germantown’s Performing Arts Centre. Their educational activities will take place with 9th grade students from the Memphis City and Shelby County Schools who will be visited three times by teaching artists in their classroom.
  • The Acting Company (New York, NY) will tour Hamlet at 30 to 35 communities throughout the United States. They will provide performances of this play and a number of educational activities, including their Learning Through Theater residencies, in partnership with venues and middle and high schools.

Please see the complete list of the 40 theater companies (attached) that have been selected to participate in Shakespeare in American Communities for 2013-2014.

One hundred and one theater companies across the United States have taken part in the NEA’s Shakespeare program since its inception eleven years ago. These companies have presented 66 of Shakespeare’s works through 7,600 performances and over 19,000 educational activities at more than 6,400 schools in 3,100 communities in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

To enhance the educational impact of Shakespeare in American Communities, Arts Midwest and the NEA
have developed a comprehensive Shakespeare in American Communities website. In addition, two
educational DVDs, a CD, and a timeline poster. These resources can be ordered free of charge from the

About Arts Midwest

Arts Midwest promotes creativity, nurtures cultural leadership, and engages people in meaningful arts
experiences, bringing vitality to Midwest communities and enriching people’s lives. Based in
Minneapolis, Arts Midwest connects the arts to audiences throughout the nine-state region of Illinois,
Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. One of six
nonprofit regional arts organizations in the United States, Arts Midwest’s history spans more than 25
years. For more information, visit www.artsmidwest.org.

About the National Endowment for the Arts

The National Endowment for the Arts was established by Congress in 1965 as an independent agency of
the federal government. To date, the NEA has awarded more than $4 billion to support artistic excellence,
creativity, and innovation for the benefit of individuals and communities. The NEA extends its work
through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic
sector. For more information, visit arts.gov.

2013–2014  Shakespeare in American Communities Selected Theater Companies

A Noise Within (Pasadena, CA)
The Acting Company (New York, NY)
Actors’ Shakespeare Project (Somerville, MA)
African-American Shakespeare Company (San Francisco, CA)
American Players Theatre (Spring Green, WI)
The American Shakespeare Center (Staunton, VA)
Aquila Theatre Company (New York, NY)
Bloomsburg Theatre Ensemble (Bloomsburg, PA)
California Shakespeare Theater (Berkeley, CA)
Classic Stage Company (New York, NY)
Denver Center Theatre Company (Denver, CO)
Epic Theatre Ensemble (New York, NY)
First Stage (Milwaukee, WI)
Folger Theatre (Washington, DC)
Great Lakes Theater (Cleveland, OH)
Guthrie Theater (Minneapolis, MN)
Hartford Stage Company (Hartford, CT)
Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival (Cold Spring, NY)
Kansas City Repertory Theatre (Kansas City, MO)
Lincoln Center Theater (New York, NY)
The Nashville Shakespeare Festival (Nashville, TN)
National Players, Olney Theatre Center (Olney, MD)
Oregon Shakespeare Festival (Ashland, OR)
Orlando Shakespeare Theater (Orlando, FL)
Park Square Theatre Company (Saint Paul, MN)
The Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival (Center Valley, PA)
PlayMakers Repertory Company (Chapel Hill, NC)
Portland Center Stage (Portland, OR)
San Francisco Shakespeare Festival (San Francisco, CA)
Sandra Feinstein-Gamm Theatre (Pawtucket, RI)
Seattle Shakespeare Company (Seattle, WA)
Shakespeare & Company (Lenox, MA)
Shakespeare Center of Los Angeles (Los Angeles, CA)
Shakespeare Theatre Company (Washington, DC)
The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey (Madison, NJ)
Tennessee Shakespeare Company (Germantown, TN)
Theater at Monmouth (Monmouth, ME)
Theater for a New Audience (New York, NY)
Utah Shakespeare Festival (Cedar City, UT)
The Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum (Topanga, CA)


  • Eighth Season Announced
  • The Oliver Experiment
  • Midsummer Night
  • AC Wharton, Jr. Visits R&J Project in Action

Tennessee Shakespeare Company
Announces Eighth Season of Plays and Education Programs:

Celebration 400

(Memphis, TN, September 1, 2015) – Tennessee Shakespeare Company (TSC), the Mid-South’s professional classical theatre, today announced its 2015-16 performance season, which commemorates the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death with a celebration of plays, readings, salons, feasts, and extensive programming for children.

TSC continues its cultural/educational partnerships with the University of Memphis’ Department of Theatre & Dance and with Dixon Gallery & Gardens.  Full productions of Shakespeare’s All’s Well That Ends Well (Dixon) and Henry V (UofM) will feature professional, AEA casts from around the country and Memphis.

The Company also partners with the Memphis Hunt & Polo Club to feature three weeks of feasts and two-hour readings of Shakespeare plays that TSC has not yet produced.  The Southern Literary Salons continue in September with a focus on Harper Lee, and in February spotlighting Ernest Hemingway in Key West.  The Seventh Annual Shakespeare Gala at Germantown Performing Arts Center moves to April to commemorate Celebration 400 during the month of the 400th anniversary.

Running concurrently with the performance season are the expanded offerings of TSC’s Education and Outreach Department.  These include a newly-authored schools show touring the southeastern U.S., student matinees, playshops and residencies, expanded Summer camps, and the recently-trademarked Romeo and Juliet Project™ literacy/non-violence residency.

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Sponsored by Theatrical Rights Worldwide (NYC)

Presents its Third Musical in Development August 15 on the University of Memphis mainstage:

The Oliver Experiment

What if your entire life were a Broadway musical…and you had no clue?

Featuring Broadway’s Brightest Stars

Memphis, TN (July 27, 2015) – Tennessee Shakespeare Company, in partnership with the University of Memphis’ Department of Theatre & Dance, presents its third and final developing musical reading on the U of M mainstage with The Oliver Experiment by Jeremy Desmon and Jeff Thomson on August 15 at 7:00 pm.

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Midsummer Night

Live music, glow sticks, and power chords!
Featuring Broadway’s Katrina Lenk and Eric B. Anthony

Memphis, TN (June 15, 2015) – Tennessee Shakespeare Company, in partnership with the University of Memphis’ Department of Theatre & Dance, presents its second developing musical reading on the U of M mainstage with Midsummer Night by Valerie Vigoda and Brendan Milburn on June 27 at 7:00 pm.

Tickets for the reading are just $15, or $10 for Students and Seniors.

Midsummer Night, directed by Janet Roston, is the second of three developing musicals in TSC’s inaugural Showplace Memphis: Musical Works in Progress.

Broadway's Katrina Lenk

 Eric B. Anthony

Broadway's Katrina Lenk and Eric B. Anthony 

Sponsored by one of Broadway’s elite musical licensing companies, Theatrical Rights Worldwide (TRW) and President/CEO Steve Spiegel, based in New York City, Showplace Memphis has been devised as the next creative stage for three musicals en route to full productions in New York and on the regional theatre circuit across the U.S.  The first musical in Showplace Memphis last month was a very successful reading of Tenderly: The Rosemary Clooney Musical.  The final musical will be a charming and surprising new piece, The Oliver Experiment (August 15).

TRW has selected the musicals, and the Actors’ Equity casts and directors are coming from all around the country and Memphis.

The cast includes Broadway’s Katrina Lenk (Once; Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark; The Miracle Worker) as Titania and Eric B. Anthony (The Lion King; Hairspray; Mary Poppins) as Puck.

Songwriters Brendan Milburn and Valerie Vigoda join with co-creator/director Janet Roston (Artistic Director of The Los Angeles Rock Opera Company) for this new take on William Shakespeare’s beloved comedy A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  The musical is set within a modern-day rock festival.  It’s a rollicking collision of rock music, iambic pentameter, and hipsters – where rock stars Titania and Oberon quarrel, festival assistant Puck creates havoc, and roadie Bottom gets a chance to shine.  

Keyboardist Milburn and electric violinist Vigoda have been singing and writing songs together for over 20 years, first for their band GrooveLily, and more recently for musical theatre and film.  Theatre:  Striking Twelve, Sleeping Beauty Wakes, Beautiful Poison, Wheelhouse, Toy Story: The Musical, Long Short Story, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, its complete reworking as the rock musical Midsummer Night, and Ernest Shackleton Loves Me.  Film: many songs for Tinker Bell for Disney animated movies.  Additional music is provided by Gene Lewin.   

The Midsummer Night creators and cast will collaborate and rehearse at the U of M for ten days leading up to its reading.  Though it will be going through both script and music changes, Midsummer Night will be played and sung in its entirety and with musical accompaniment on the U of M’s mainstage.  No other design elements (scenic/costumes/lights) will be integrated.

Audiences will have an opportunity to speak with the actors and creators of Midsummer Night immediately following its reading.  Audiences also will inform the production by completing an audience survey that will help the creative team in future development phases.

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Memphis Mayor AC Wharton, Jr. to Visit Tennessee Shakespeare Company’s Romeo and Juliet Project in Action at East High School Monday, March 23

March 17, 2015 – Memphis Mayor AC Wharton, Jr. announced today he will observe first-hand Tennessee Shakespeare Company teaching and playing its Romeo and Juliet Project with 100 ninth graders in four simultaneous sessions at East High School on Monday, March 23 at 9:00 am.

“On behalf of TSC and our Board of Directors, I am so proud and honored to have Mayor Wharton joining our teachers in the classroom,” said Project creator and TSC Education Director Stephanie Shine.  “It was at the Mayor’s urging we created this Project, and I am excited for him to see his challenge come to positive life.”

pic-romeo-and-juliet-castTennessee Shakespeare Company began its nationally-recognized, four-part performance and in-school residency in the Memphis area in January.  The Project, now in its fourth year, brings a cast of eight professional actor-teachers into each Language Arts classroom at a participating school.  Students are guided by the actors to live the play’s urgent tragedy of young love amidst rage, experiencing its relevant story while ensuring that participating freshmen have a first exposure to Shakespeare that is active, rich, and rewarding.

As the teenagers in the play face armed violence, students discover positive actions available to them in their own lives in the face of real conflict.  Student post-Project assessments have recorded a 20% increase in students’ compassion as a result of their inclusion in The Romeo and Juliet Project, as well as a full letter grade increase, on average, in Language Arts classes.

The Residency concludes with an intimate performance by the actor-teachers of Romeo and Juliet, which encourages student participation.

By the end of March, The Romeo and Juliet Project will have performed the play 44 times in 27 Memphis area schools, and will have taught the Residency in 342 classroom visits in 11 schools.  At least 4,360 high school Freshmen will be reached and positively affected by The Romeo and Juliet Project.  That figure represents 34% of all freshmen in the Shelby County Schools system.

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Tennessee Shakespeare Company is generously supported by:

Boyle         FedEx         logo-arts-memphis

International Paper            University of Memphis


Theatrical Rights Worldwide

First Tenneessee Foundation

Tennessee Arts Commission

Season Sponsors:
Arts Memphis, Barbara B. Apperson Angel Fund, Nancy Copp, FedEx Corporation, Independent Bank, International Paper, Rose M. Johnston, Ernest and Pat Kelly, Jr., Milton T. Schaeffer, Margaret and Owen Tabor, Ann and Wellford Tabor, Tennessee Arts Commission, and The University of Memphis.

Season Partners:
Boyle Investment Company, Dixon Gallery & Gardens, and The University of Memphis’ Department of Theatre & Dance.

Tennessee Shakespeare Company is a proud member of:
Alliance for Nonprofit Excellence       ArtsMemphis    logo-gacc          Tennesseans for the Arts     Tennessee Theatre Association