The National Endowment for the Arts and Arts Midwest Award Tennessee Shakespeare Company with Prestigious Shakespeare in American Communities Grant for Second Year
(Memphis, TN; July 7, 2014) – Arts Midwest has announced that Tennessee Shakespeare Company is one of just 40 theatre companies in the United States to receive its prestigious Shakespeare in American Communities grant for TSC's innovative Romeo and Juliet Project. This is the second consecutive year TSC has been awarded the grant as the youngest organization of the 40 theatres selected.
The grant is for $25,000, which TSC must match through private donations.
These awards mark the twelfth consecutive year of Shakespeare in American Communities, a national program managed by Arts Midwest in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). The program introduces middle and high school students to the power of live theatre 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.
Among the other 39 theatre companies selected for 2014-15: American Shakespeare Festival, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Barter Theatre, Cincinnati Shakespeare Company, Classic Stage Company, Folger Theatre, Guthrie Theatre, San Francisco Shakespeare Festival, Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, and Utah Shakespeare Festival. A full list of recipients may be found at www.shakespeareinamericancommunities.org.
TSC is being awarded the matching grant again this year to continue its life-changing, grade-raising Romeo and Juliet Project in five high schools in Memphis, four of which are Title One schools: Bartlett, Booker T. Washington, Carver, Kirby, and Ridgeway.
The Project, designed and managed by TSC Education Director Stephanie Shine, will visit entire ninth-grade classes in all five schools a total of four times, including three progressive playshops culminating in an interactive, intimate, in-school performance of Romeo and Juliet.
The production will highlight the pivotal decisions made in the play by both children and adults that lead to the deaths of five extraordinary teenagers – decisions that Memphis adults and teens can change in their own lives today to help shift the culture of violence in our community.
TSC's Teaching Actors and students are challenged to look past the beautified veil of romantic love often associated with the play. The play's prologue communicates something very different: children will die, and the audience will witness how each character chooses actions that permit it. The students are further challenged to see themselves in the story-telling, and afterwards, to articulate for themselves how they could help change this same story in their own lives.
Last season, the The Romeo and Juliet Project was immersed in four schools with an additional 19 schools participating in the full production of the play and talk-back. Nearly 450 student activities were achieved through the Project last season, exceeding 6,300 student interactions.
This year, the production of Romeo and Juliet will play inside each participating school, and it also will be available for booking by all schools in Shelby County. To book the touring production of Romeo and Juliet, please call TSC's Education Program manager Slade Kyle at (901) 759-0620.
"The impact of the performance of Romeo and Juliet on students has been life-saving," says Shine. "Even more important than falling in love with Shakespeare, live theatre, or making better grades - this impact, as was the original function of theatre, is humanitarian. Participating students realize that they have the ability to improve each others' lives. This is what gives The Romeo and Juliet Project profound meaning in our community."
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 non-profit regional arts organizations in the United States, Arts Midwest's history spans more than 25 years. For more information, visit www.artsmidwest.org.
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 $5 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.
Tennessee Shakespeare Company
Tennessee Shakespeare Company is a professional 501(c)(3) theatre and education organization which performs the plays of William Shakespeare as well as classical and Southern writers, and provides year-round educational and training programming. Now in its seventh season, Tennessee Shakespeare Company seeks to sustain a Mid-South classical theatre that both nurtures artists and encourages audiences to exaltation, curiosity, and wonderment; be a center for the community dedicated to re-discovering faith in life by increasing awareness of reality and expanding imagination through an emphasis on the performance, education, and training of William Shakespeare's works. Highlights from TSC's 2013-14 Season:
- The National Endowment for the Arts/Arts Midwest awarded TSC its first $25,000 matching grant for our innovative Romeo and Juliet Project.
- TSC programmed nearly 13,000 student interactions in the Memphis area, across Tennessee, and in five other southern states with its education outreach and professional productions. Programming included a TSC-created touring show titled Shake(s), Rattle, & Roll, matinees and post-show community discussions of teen violence around Romeo and Juliet, The Taming of the Shrew, The Romeo and Juliet Project in primarily Title One schools, 53 in-school playshops, 82 days of in-school residencies, and a TSC-created interactive Study Guide for The Taming of the Shrew.
- TSC produced five productions for over 6,000 audience members, 34% of whom were Memphis area students under 18 years of age.
- TSC launched the Tuesday Literary Salon as part of our Southern Exposure Series.
- TSC welcomed new collaborators, partners, and generous sponsors Boyle Investment Company, Independent Bank, International Paper, Shelby County Schools, and Target Stores.
- TSC broke all education program fundraising records with its Fifth Annual Gala in February, which featured one of the great gentlemen and talents of Broadway, Howard McGillin (Phantom of the Opera, The Mystery of Edwin Drood).
- Transitioned to a new, modern, larger administrative office within the Shops at Forest Hill village (3092 Village Shops Drive, Germantown, TN 38138).