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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

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).

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.

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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.

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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

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