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Tennessee Shakespeare Company Stages Romeo and Juliet at Germantown Performing Arts Center January 28 and 30

Part of its renowned Romeo and Juliet Project funded by the National Endowment for the Arts

(Memphis, TN, January 9, 2014) – Tennessee Shakespeare Company brings a sweeping, youthful, full-cast production of William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet to the Duncan-Williams Performance Hall at Germantown Performing Arts Center on January 28 and 30 at 7:00 pm. Opening night on January 28 will include a complimentary post-show reception with the actors.


R&J CastChildren 17 years and younger will be admitted FREE for both performances when accompanied by a paying, attending guardian. Limit: four per guardian.Directed by Stephanie Shine, Romeo and Juliet is part of Shakespeare for a New Generation, a national program of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest. This marks the first time in TSC's young history that it has been nationally-recognized with NEA funding.

The professional, multi-ethnic cast of actors and designers from around the country also will feature a six-actor ensemble from the theatre department at the University of Memphis.

The production is part of TSC's larger social and educational investment in its community: The Romeo and Juliet Project. Piloted in 2012, funded locally by ArtsMemphis to expand into Memphis schools in 2013, and now funded by the NEA and ArtsMemphis for 2014, the Project will send TSC's actor-teachers into Carver, Booker T. Washington, Ridgeway, Kirby, and Bartlett High Schools to teach every Freshman the play through an interactive, three-day anti-violence residency through February.

Following both public performances on January 28 and 30, a special community forum with audiences, actors, and director will be moderated by TSC founding member, education author, and Hutchison Middle School Head Barry Gilmore to explore together the many situations in the play that implore us to look within ourselves for social remedy.

The Project will also offer three morning student matinees of Romeo and Juliet for Mid-South elementary, middle, and high school students. More than 2,000 students are expected to participate. To book your school, teachers and administrators may call TSC Education Manager Slade Kyle at (901) 759-0620.

The title roles in Romeo and Juliet will be played by Seattle-based actors, and real-life couple, Rachel Brun and Joey Shaw.

Joey Shaw most recently played Menecrates in Seattle Shakespeare Company's Antony and Cleopatra. In the past year he played Tybalt in Shakespeare Walla Walla's Romeo and Juliet and designed sound for their It's a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play, both directed by Stephanie Shine. University of Washington credits: Hair (Claude), Romeo and Juliet (Romeo), Macbeth (Macduff), and The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (Mitch).

Rachel Brun recently appeared at Seattle's Town Theatre in Domesticity and in Owen Meany's Christmas Pageant with Book-It Repertory Theatre. University of Washington credits: Stone Cold Dead Serious (Sharice), Macbeth (Lady Macduff), and Rough Magic (Miranda). Rachel appears as Gabrielle in the upcoming independent film, The Delicate Art of Bird Watching.

Returning to the TSC stage are Slade Kyle (Nurse, Tybalt), Cara McHugh (Lady Capulet), and Phil Darius Wallace* (Capulet, Apothecary). Performing for the first time with TSC are Isaac Anderson (Mercutio), Guillermo Jemmott (Benvolio), and Jamie Mann (Friar).

The University of Memphis ensemble includes Elizabeth Baines, Grace Bowers, Justin Burgess, Liz Kellicut, Matthew Nelson, and Joshua Tucker.

The design team includes the return of Bruce Bui's costumes with his associates Ashley Selberg and Haley Franklin, the properties of Kristen Greene, new fight choreography by Slade Kyle, and First Folio text consultancy by Neil Freeman in Vancouver. The scenic design is created by Los Angeles-based designer Elliot LaPlante, and the lighting design is created by Seattle-based Kent Cubbage.

"Romeo and Juliet contains the most breathtaking love scenes, the most riotous comedy, and the most heartbreaking sacrifice of young life of any of the plays, and all in one play," says director Shine, who also serves as TSC's Education Director. "It teaches us the most valuable lessons about the true evil of hate, the cleansing power of forgiveness, the necessity of bearing responsibility, and the freedom that accompanies truth.

"To lose young people to hate and violence is a punishment we feel too well in Memphis. Our daily news relays tragedies all too close to Romeo and Juliet. It is fitting that we use this play to introduce future generations to William Shakespeare and the great wisdom he offers. Maybe we can keep our children alive. It is fitting that the NEA is funding not only this production, but the three-day anti-violence residency that will partner with five Shelby County schools this year. One day, we may be able to serve all 40 public high schools in the county. Imagine the effect. And best of all, it is fitting we come together in the great numbers that performing at GPAC affords us so we may experience something together that may inspire us to create lasting change for our community."

Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet first appeared on stage in 1595. He borrowed the story from a poem published in 1562 titled The Tragical History of Romeus and Juliet, written first in Italian by Bandell, then in English by Arthur Brooke. Shakespeare followed the poem's plot and used some of the same words for his dialogue.

As in all of the plays from which he borrows, his Romeo and Juliet is infused with deep humanity, new and unique characters, compacts the action into a few short days, and evolves the two young lovers into fully realized young people who build between them a love that is inclusive of their minds, spirits, and bodies. Until Shakespeare crafted his title characters for the stage, no other playwright had yet expressed so understandably the exhilaration, maturity, purity, and completeness of shared, young love.

Shakespeare also tells the entire story before his play begins – in his Prologue, written in 14-line sonnet form. What is popularly considered the greatest love story ever told is born in a world of rage. The ancient feud between the Capulet and Montague households infuses fair Verona with prejudice and hatred. No one ever says what started the violent feud, which prevents audiences from taking sides. Civilians are killing one another.

The only children of the houses of Montague and Capulet are teenagers Romeo and Juliet, and they are "star-cross'd." Fate is working against them, and these children will take their own lives because their love for one another cannot be requited in the world of violence their parents and ancestors have wrought. The suicides of Juliet and Romeo become the terrible sacrifice that is needed to end the rage. The children are unsavable, making the play a tragedy. But their deaths, and those of their young peers in the story, are remarkable for their timeless instruction to all ages.

"In response to violence, Romeo and Juliet offers us a great lesson in the power of individual choice, the freedom that truth brings, and, best of all, the hope for change," says Shine. "Romeo and Juliet shows us all what love and forgiveness can do to change a community for the better."

Stephanie Shine+ (Director) TSC directorial work includes It's a Wonderful Life: a Live Radio Play, Shakespeare's Greatest Hits, Southern Yuletide, Romeo and Juliet, and The Rebel Shakespeare and His Women. During her 18 years with Seattle Shakespeare Company, 13 as Artistic Director, she directed 17 productions, including The Threepenny Opera, Cyrano de Bergerac, and the lauded all-male Taming of the Shrew. A well-known actress in the Northwest, Stephanie has performed for Seattle Repertory Theatre, Seattle Shakespeare Company, ACT, The Empty Space, Seattle Children's Theatre, Book-It Repertory Theatre, and Tacoma Actors Guild. Regionally, she appeared with the Oregon and New Jersey Shakespeare Festivals, Houston's Alley Theatre, Arizona Theatre Company, and NYC's Theatre for a New Audience. Her Shakespeare roles include Juliet, Rosalind, Lady Macbeth, Beatrice, Regan, Feste, Kate, Bianca, Dionyza, The Princess of France, Hero, Perdita, and The Chorus in Henry V.

+ Member of The Society of Directors and Choreographers, Inc., an independent national labor union.

* Member of Actors' Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States.

Tennessee Shakepeare Company's production is part of Shakespeare for a New Generation, a national program of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest.

For more information, please visit: Shakespeare in American Communities

 

Box Office Information

Box Office: General Admission tickets are on sale now, Monday – Friday, 9:00 am – 5:00 pm at TSC's office located at 2260 West Street, Germantown, TN 38138; by calling 901-759-0604, or by going on-line to www.tnshakespeare.org (Twitter: @tnshakespeare).

All performances: $30.

Free Will Kids' Nights: Available both nights. Children are admitted FREE with a paying, attending guardian. Limit four per guardian.

Discounts available for seniors, students, and groups of 20.

Opening Night on January 28 includes complementary post-show dessert and champagne toast with the actors.

Notes: All seats are general admission. No refunds or exchanges. Title and cast subject to change. Tennessee Shakespeare Company is a 501(c)(3) non-profit arts and education organization. GPAC is located at 1801 Exeter Road, Germantown, TN 38138

 

News

  • Midsummer Night
  • AC Wharton, Jr. Visits Romeo and Juliet Project in Action
  • Romeo and Juliet Project - 4th Year
  • Memphis Shakespeare Training Intensive

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.

Read More

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.

Read More

pic-romeo-and-juliet-castTennessee Shakespeare Company Kicks Off Fourth Year of Nationally-Recognized ROMEO AND JULIET PROJECT

  • 27 Schools
  • 44 Performances
  • 342 Classroom Visits
  • 4,360 High School Freshmen


(January 15, 2015) -- Tennessee Shakespeare Company has begun its nationally-recognized, four-part performance and in-school residency The Romeo and Juliet Project in the Memphis area this week, starting with Germantown High School and all of its 530 Freshmen.

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. 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.

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.

Read More

Actors May Now Apply for The Memphis Shakespeare Weekend Intensive

pic-dave-demke
Pictured: Dave Demke

Tennessee Shakespeare Company is now accepting applications for its Memphis Shakespeare Weekend Intensive, running July 24 - 26, hosted by the University of Memphis Department of Theatre & Dance.

Click here for the Application/Deposit form.  Only 7 more participant slots are available.

The Schedule

Friday, July 24 from 6pm - 10pm
Saturday, July 25 from 10am - 10pm
Sunday, July 26 from 10am - 4pm. 

Adequate time is allotted for meal breaks.

Is This for You?

This work is designed to serve both professional and aspiring actors, age 21 and older, who want to speak Shakespeare with clarity, skill, and passion.  The Intensive is strategically limited to 12 participants to ensure that everyone receives personal coaching and attention.

What is the Intensive Training?

Exercises in Linklater voice, Alexander and Trish Arnold movement, and text work based on John Barton's work and Neil Freeman's First Folio research, will be used to free up breath, voice, impulses, imagination, and the actor's intelligence.  Individual monologue coaching will focus on developing a personal, passionate connection to Shakespeare's text.  Participants can expect to leave the Intensive personally enriched and enlightened.

Read More

Tennessee Shakespeare Company is generously supported by:

Boyle         FedEx         logo-arts-memphis

International Paper            University of Memphis

logo-ibank

Theatrical Rights Worldwide

First Tenneessee Foundation

logo-natl-endow-arts2 Xfinity

Tennessee Arts Commission


Season Sponsors:
Arts Memphis, Barbara B. Apperson Angel Fund, Nancy and Dan Copp, FedEx Corporation, Independent Bank, Ernest and Pat Kelly, Jr., National Endowment for the Arts/Arts Midwest, Milton T. Schaeffer, The Family of Margaret and Owen Tabor, Ann and Wellford Tabor, and Tennessee Arts Commission.

Season Partners:
Boyle Investment Company, Dixon Gallery & Gardens, St. George’s Episcopal Church, Theatrical Rights Worldwide,
and The University of Memphis.

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